Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Fighting is not the solution

September 9, 2017

Pentecost 14 – 2017

Matthew 18:10-20

Marian Free

In the name of God who, through Jesus shows us a way to confront wrongdoing without causing embarrassment or shame. Amen.

I would not be surprised to discover that more than a few of us have been made quite anxious not only by North Korea’s testing of a hydrogen bomb but also in relation to the world’s response to that test. An escalation of threats on one side has led to an escalation of activity on the other and so it goes on – a never-ending cycle in which each side tries to cow the other. It is difficult to see how the situation can end well. North Korea fires a bomb, the United States and others urge more punitive sanctions. North Korea threatens to bomb the United States, the United States threatens a massive military response and so on. Neither party wants to back down. Backing down would be a source of embarrassment and would be seen as a sign of weakness[1].

A willingness not to use force to solve a conflict and not put down the other party not only leads to a different outcome, but provides a solution in which neither party is made to look weak or is exposed to embarrassment or shame. On Friday, Richard Filder interviewed Jonesy – a single mother, truck-driver, trainer and company director. Heather Jones drives enormous B-double, or B-triple trucks in Western Australia. A few years ago, Jonesy was called in to mediate in a situation that looked as though it was going to get out of hand. A woman from Ballina had taken it on herself to expose truck drivers whom, she had concluded were all dangerous and irresponsible drivers. “Bothersome Belinda” as she became known, set up a website asking for people to dob in a truck driver. Her campaign caused distress among all the truck drivers who drove responsibly and carefully and who often put their own lives at risk to avoid accidents. Jonesy was called in by her fellow truckies to see if she could help – single mother to single mother.

At the first meeting, Belinda’s body language said it all. Her views were fixed: truckies were the enemy and she was not ready to give an inch. Jonesy was not deterred. Over a number of meetings she continued to reach out to Belinda until the point that they became good friends. The eventual outcome was that the offending website was taken down and, to Jonesy’s surprise, Belinda got her truck license and came to work for her.

Two quite different ways of dealing with offense and two quite different results!

In a culture governed by notions of honour and shame and in which aggression and tit for tat was a way of life, Jesus showed that there was another way.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made the stunning claim that: “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and “Blessed are the meek”. He not only counselled against aggression, he also gave practical examples of ways in which his listeners could end disputes without exposing the other person or oneself to shame or dishonour. He said: “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

This is a theme that runs throughout Matthew’s gospel. Jesus refused to meet violence with violence, he refused to grandstand, to promote himself at the expense of others, and finally he submitted to violence and death rather than respond to hostility with aggression.

In today’s gospel Jesus provides a practical example of how conflict or sin within the Christian community might be dealt with without exposing the offender to embarrassment and without creating a situation that would lead to an escalation of the problem. Jesus does not appear to think that conflict is something to be avoided at all costs. It will occur in the Christian community as in any other. When it does, the matter should be addressed, but it should be addressed in a way that does not expose the offender or cause the offender to lose honour in the sight of the community. Jesus suggests three strategies that can be used if tensions arise, or if someone hurts someone else or behaves in a way that is contrary to the values of the community.

In the first instance the one who is sinned against is to speak quietly to the offender – thus causing no embarrassment. Only if this doesn’t work are others to be involved. The second stage involves witnesses, which suggests that it is more of a legal process. Again, the problem is dealt with privately so that the offender does not lose honour. Only as a last resort is the offender brought before the entire community. If the offender still refuses to acknowledge his or her fault, they have demonstrated that they do not really belong and, at least in the short-term, must be designated as an outsider – in the same class as a tax-collector or a Gentile.

I am not naïve. History has demonstrated that sometimes the only way to confront and to stop evil behaviour has been to react with force. What Jesus is suggesting is that this should not be a way of life. Confrontation and violence should never be the starting point, but rather dialogue and an attempt at mutual understanding. Only when these fail should we begin to seek out other means of resolving the tension.

Within the Christian community relationships are likely to be tested, people are going to rub up against each other in the church as in other situation and people are going to fail to live up to everyone’s expectations. What is important, is not that conflict is avoided, but that when it does occur it is dealt with in such a way as to avoid exposing people to embarrassment and shame and that it follows an orderly process to try to resolve the issue and, as we shall see as the chapter progresses, the Christian community should be more ready than other communities to forgive – not once but over and over and over again.

[1] To be fair, imposing sanctions has been used as a way of avoiding conflict and war, and it may be difficult to have conversations with the leadership of North Korea.

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Victory of the cross

March 14, 2015
Cruciform woman - Emmanuel United College Toronto

Cruciform woman – Emmanuel United College Toronto

A more sentimental image

A more sentimental image

Nikolai Ge Crucifixion

Nikolai Ge Crucifixion

Lent 4 – 2015

John 3:14-21

Marian Free

 God of contradiction, open our hearts and minds to understand that your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts. Amen.

The crucifixion of Jesus has been portrayed in a wide variety of ways from the pious and sentimental to the violent and grotesque. Many are confronting (if for different reasons). For example I feel some disquiet when I see an image of Jesus fully dressed (in Bishop’s regalia) and exhibiting no signs of pain. Equally confronting is one from South America that depicts what looks like a charred body arched in pain and screaming in agony. For centuries the crucified Jesus was depicted as white (often blond). During the twentieth century new and original images emerged that more accurately reflected Jesus as a representative of all humanity – or example a Jesus with Chinese, Maori or African features. Sidney Nolan portrayed Jesus as a woman as did the artist whose sculpture was placed in a United Church in Toronto. Such imagery enables women and those whose skin colour is not white to fully grasp the notion that Jesus died for all people – including them – and not just for white (middle class) males.

New and confronting images of the crucifixion can help to make real the horror of the crucifixion. They can enable us to peel back the layers of piety that have, over the centuries, stripped the cross of its meaning. Our churches have crosses in all kinds of shapes and designs. There are wooden crosses, brass crosses, crosses made of silver or gold and crosses that are encrusted with jewels. Crosses in a number of different designs are worn as jewellery – even by those who do not profess the Christian faith. In many cases, the image of cross even when it is adorned with a crucified Christ has become so familiar that it has lost its power to confront and to challenge.

That said, I’m not at all sure that we would wish to be confronted with the horror of the crucifixion on a daily basis. We are told that crucifixion was an awful way in which to die. Whether a person was nailed or tied to a cross, they died slowly and of suffocation – pushing down on their nailed (or bound) feet so that they could take a breath[1]. It could take as long as three days to die. Crucifixion was also a very public death. Those who were condemned to die were generally put to death by the side of a well-travelled road so that their deaths could serve as an example to as many people as possible. It was a cruel, inhumane and humiliating way in which to die and, one would think, the most unlikely image to become an object of veneration.

This contradiction – that an image of torture and death could become a symbol representative of life and hope – is captured by the author of John’s gospel. In 3:14-15 Jesus says: “the Son of Man must be lifted up so that whomever believes in him will have eternal life.” In this passage and other places in which Jesus uses the expression “lifted up”, he is referring to his crucifixion. (“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people to myself.” (12:32)) For the author of John’s gospel the cross, the crucifixion is the high point of Jesus’ ministry, the moment towards which the whole gospel is moving and the point at which it Jesus’ mission reaches not only its climax, but its fulfillment. The cross is a victory, not a defeat.

Lindars points out that Jesus’ victory on the cross is at least two-fold[2]. By laying dow his life for others, Jesus is demonstrating not only his deep love, but what is really God’s love for the world. In freely offering this gift, Jesus shows his readiness to do as the Father wills and demonstrates that he and the Father are one. Lindars refers to this as his “moral union with God”.

By overcoming the natural human resistance to pain and death and by conquering the human will to live, Jesus shows that human nature’s propensity to resist God and goodness can in fact be overcome and that humanity does not have to submit to selfish desires or to the propensity to gratify one’s own needs and desires before all else. Through his submission to the cross Jesus, Lindars suggests, wins the “supreme moral victory” (which is also a cosmic victory for “in his own person the devil’s grip on humanity is broken” (12:31)).

“Lifting up” in John’s gospel several layers of meaning. It can refer to the cross as the place of victory but it also suggestive of Jesus’ exaltation to the right hand of the Father. At the same time, because as we have seen, crucifixion was a very public event and because the cross lifted the victim above the level of the crowds the condemned men were very visible to those who gathered and to those who passed by. On the cross, Jesus is visibly and publicly displayed for all to see. Thank goodness we do not have to witness the physical event, but through the images that are available and those in our mind’s eye, we see Jesus’ lifted up and through John’s gospel comprehend that in this instance defeat is in fact victory, that death is a door to life and that even the worst of human excesses can be overcome.

We come to understand that on the cross, Jesus bore all the suffering of the world, experienced the baseness and cruelty of humankind at its worst and identified with the victims of cruelty and torture, the victims of domestic violence and bullying, the victims of oppression and injustice and all who have suffered at the hands of others. Those who have experienced unbearable pain and suffering can look at the cross and know that God shared/shares their pain. This understanding is best captured by a poem written by a woman who had experienced abuse at the hands of a man. The poem is written in response to a cruciform image of a woman that was hung below a cross in a United Church Chapel in Toronto.

May we all see in Jesus “lifted up” the victory of the cross, Jesus union with the Father, the triumph over evil and the possibility of resurrection.

By his wounds you have been healed

1 Peter 2:24

 

O God,

through the image of a woman

crucified on the cross

I understand at last.

 

For over hold my life

I have been ashamed

of the scars I bear.

These scars tell an ugly story,

a common story,

about a girl who is the victim

when a man acts out his fantasies.

 

In the warmth, peace and sunlight of your presence

I was able to uncurl my tightly clenched fists.

for the first time

I felt your suffering presence with me

in that event.

I have known you as a vulnerable baby,

as a brother and as a father.

Now I know you as a woman.

You we’re there with me as the violated girl

caught in helpless suffering.

 

The chains of shame and fear

no longer bind my heart and body.

A slow fire of compassion and forgiveness

is kindled.

my tears fall now

for man as well as woman.

 

You, God,

can make our violated bodies

vessels of love and comfort

to such a desperate man.

I am honored

to carry this womanly power

within my body and soul.

 

You were not ashamed of your wounds.

You showed them to Thomas

as marks of your ordeal and death.

I will no longer hide these wounds of mine.

I will bear them gracefully.

They tell a resurrection story.

 

Anonymous. Written after seeing a figure of a woman, arms outstretched as if crucified, hung below the cross in the Chapel of the Bloor St United Church in Toronto. The statue is now in a courtyard of Emmanuel United College in Toronto.[3]

 

 

[1] A Google search of images of the crucifixion provides some sketches which demonstrate what crucifixion was like.

[2] Lindars, Barnabas, SSF in The Johannine Literature. Ed Lindars, Barnabas, Edwards, Ruth B. and Court, John. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000, 91-93.

[3] The poem is anonymous. I read it in a Newsletter published by The World Council of Churches in 1988 as a part of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998).

Making a difference in the world

December 20, 2014

Advent 4 – 2014
Luke 1:26-36
Marian Free

In the name of Jesus who surrendered himself completely and in so doing became completely God. Amen.

What a year this has been. What a week! This week alone two people have lost their lives in a hostage situation in Sydney, 140 students and teachers have been killed in an attack on a school in Pakistan, eight children have been stabbed to death by their mother in Cairns, and (hidden away in a small paragraph of today’s paper) we learn that another 180 women and children have been kidnapped by Boko Haran in Nigeria. In the face of all this horror and violence it is easy to overlook the devastating news that the UN has run out of funds and that hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled the violence in Syria and Iraq can no longer expect food handouts and so may have escaped the war only to face starvation. It might also have escaped our attention that currently in the Central African Republic something like 10,000 children – some as young as eight – have been recruited as soldiers and force to fight in a war they almost certainly do not understand.

And that is just this week and only the news items that particularly grabbed my attention. It is only the tip of the iceberg in a world that seems to be falling apart at the seams.

The week just gone is exactly the sort of week that might make a person ask “where is God in all this” and “why doesn’t God do something to stop the violence and destruction?” The reason is simple – God can’t intervene. At least God cannot intervene decisively and enduringly without stooping to our level and behaving just like us. If God were to use violence to put an end to violence either the world itself would be destroyed or the world would follow God’s example and the cycle of violence would continue. If instead God tried to impose God’s will, to dominate and subjugate the aggressors would resist God’s control and take out their frustration on others the situation might become worse rather than better.

So while God might despair at the state of the world today, God chooses not to intervene. If God does intervene God does so in a completely novel and unexpected way – without resorting to violence or domination. God knows that forcing us to do God’s will is not nearly as effective as working with us to achieve the same end. For this reason God refuses to coerce us, to bend us to his purpose or to subjugate us to God’s authority. Instead God waits. God waits until we are ready, until we recognise and are open to God’s greater wisdom and willingly submit ourselves to God’s plan for us and for the world. For it is only when individuals acknowledge God and allow God to direct their lives that they enable God to be effective in achieving God’s purpose. It is only when we relinquish our pride, our arrogance and our selfish ambitions that God is able to work in and through us to make real God’s hopes for all humankind.

And so we come at last to today’s gospel and the extraordinary story of an ordinary young woman whose selfless humility made a place for God in her life and therefore for God in the world. In order to respond to God, Mary put aside her fears, her ambitions, her desire for respectability and her need to be in control of her own life. Mary was less concerned with what was good for her, and more concerned about the greater good, less worried about her own future, and more worried about the future of humankind. Mary let go and gave herself and her life completely into God’s hands.

It was Mary’s willingness to submit to God that provided God with the opportunity to intervene in the world. It was Mary’s “yes” that led to Christ’s birth and consequently to the redemption of all humankind.

If then the world has not been redeemed, we need not look to God but to ourselves. While we continue to hold on to our own hopes and dreams, while we persist in trying to prove ourselves by competing with and striving over and against others, while we rely on our own resources to provide security for the present and the future, we effectively diminish God’s presence in the world while at the same time reinforcing our own.

Paradoxically, it was Mary’s submission, her giving up of her self, that not only allowed God to be brought to birth in the world, but made her most truly the person God created her to be. In giving up everything, Mary gained more than she could have ever imagined, by accepting ignominy, Mary gained the sort of fame which few have achieved and few can even imagine.

Mary is told: “Nothing is impossible with God.” Nothing is impossible for God, but in order for God to make a difference in this broken world, God needs our cooperation, our willingness to let go of ambition and self interest, our preparedness to relinquish our need for control and give ourselves completely to God’s will. There are few who are prepared to give themselves so completely and lose themselves so thoroughly and as a result the world continues its trajectory towards self-destruction.

God needs our ‘yes’ to join that of Mary’s so that in every age and every place, ordinary men and women will continue to bring Christ to birth. Our “yes to God might not transform the world, but it might change our small corner for the better.

Incitement to violence?

October 11, 2014

Pentecost 18

Matthew 22:1-14

Marian Free

 

Holy God, may we so strive to understand your word, that we are not blinded by our own prejudices or limited by our own ignorance, and that we are always on guard against complacency and self-satisfaction. Amen.

As radical Islamists are rampaging though northern Iraq and Syria, wreaking destruction and committing atrocities against innocent civilians who do not hold their world view, the last thing that we want is to be confronted with on a Sunday morning is the violence of our own texts and the possibly that they might be used as an incitement to violence against others. And yet that is just what we appear to have this morning. Sure, the original wedding guests did kill the king’s servants but the king’s reaction does seem excessive. He sends his troops against the offenders and not only kills them but burns their city. It is a parable and not meant to be taken literally, but if it were literal a lot of innocent people would have been killed along with the guilty. If that were not enough, the parable ends with what many think is a second parable – that of the man without a wedding garment who gets cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. There is just no getting around the aggression in these two parables.

Before we condemn all Muslims and their holy texts, it is important to understand how easy it is for our own to be twisted or distorted. To recognise how easily they can be used as a justification for violence and exclusion and to exercise some caution before we point our fingers at others.

In recording the parable of the banquet both Matthew and Luke have used it to further their own distinct arguments. Luke’s emphasis on the inclusion of those on the edges comes through loud and clear in his placement and re-telling of the parable while Matthew’s agenda of demonstrating that the Jesus-believing Jews are the true Israel is obvious in the way in his placement and telling.

Luke’s setting is that of a series of banquet stories. In response to a dinner guest who says: “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” Jesus says: “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’

In Luke’s story someone has a banquet, there is only one servant, the guests who refuse to come are ignored. The servant is sent out again, not once, but twice. Luke makes it very clear that the replacement guests are the poor, the crippled and the lame – in other words the vulnerable and those who would usually be excluded. As Luke perceives it, the Kingdom of God will include all these outsiders.

Both writers are trying to explain why it is that those to whom Jesus was sent have not embraced him and others, the outsiders (Gentiles), have. Those who were invited did not come and others invited in their place did.

The author of Matthew’s gospel makes this point even more strongly to demonstrate his claim that the new believers have supplanted the old. The Jesus-believing Jews have taken the place of the Jews who do not believe. We see this in the preceding two parables (see Pentecost 16). The vineyard is taken away from the wicked tenants and the son who initially says he will not go, is the one who does. Matthew uses hyperbole in his retelling – it is a royal wedding banquet, there are several servants, not just one, the servants are killed and in retaliation the invited guests are killed. Whereas Luke describes the replacement guests Matthew simply points out that they have been invited indiscriminately – the good and the bad together.

It is possible that as well as using exaggeration Matthew is employing Old Testament allusions to make his point. There was a tradition that Israel killed the prophets sent by God and also a belief that Israel’s faithlessness led to punishments such as defeat by their enemies and being taken into exile. Matthew’s listeners may well have understood the servants to be the prophets and the destruction of Jerusalem as a consequence of the king’s (God’s) anger.

That leaves us with the man without the wedding garment. Why does Matthew append this detail? One explanation is that he is warning his community against complacency. The man without the wedding garment represents those who think that their inclusion is the end of the matter and do not understand that it comes with certain responsibilities. This parable makes it clear that just as easily as they have been included, they can be excluded. They must be on their guard and not take their invitation for granted.

When we go to the trouble of grappling with Matthew’s telling of the story, we can see that it is NOT an incitement for us to use violence against or to destroy those who do not believe what we do. Rather it is a parable, a story (and an exaggerated one at that) to explain why it is that we, who are not Jews came to be included in the people of God. It is also warning that we should look to ourselves. At all times we should be on our guard against smugness and self-satisfaction. If we treat God’s invitation with disdain it can always be extended to others.

God loves the world?

March 15, 2014
Titus' arch

Titus’ arch

Lent 2. 2014

John 3:1-17 (Genesis 12:1-4a; Romans 4:1-17)

Marian Free

In the name of God whose love embraces a world torn apart by violence, hatred, fear and greed. Amen.

During the week I came across a graphic description of the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The author, Reza Aslan imaginatively recreates the turmoil and unrest of first century Palestine, the various revolts by “bandits” against the Roman rulers and how finally this ferment boiled over in the centre of the Hebrew faith – Jerusalem[1]. Aslan records the failure of successive Roman governors, the discontent of the people, the uprisings, the factions and the focus on Jerusalem and the Temple. Then he goes on to describe the callous ruthlessness of the Roman reaction.

When the Israelites expelled the Romans from Jerusalem, Vespasian was sent to quell the rebellion and restore order. Approaching Jerusalem from north and south, Vespasian and his son Titus retook control of all but Judea. In 68 CE Vespasian was distracted by the death of Nero and his ambition to fill that role. He abandoned the battle and returned to Rome where he was declared Emperor. The people of Rome were restless and Vespasian realized that he needed a decisive victory (or Triumph) to consolidate his hold on the office and to demonstrate his authority over the whole of the Roman Empire.

The revolt in Palestine provided the perfect scenario to show of what he was made. Vespasian decided not only restore order and reclaim authority in the nation, but to utterly destroy it – its people and, more particularly its God. To this end Vespasian dispatched his son Titus to bring the Hebrews to their knees. Titus set siege to Jerusalem, cut off the water supply and ensured that no one could go in or out. Those who did escape, he crucified in full view of the city. Slowly the people starved to death. They ate grass and cow dung and chewed the leather from their belts and shoes. Soon the dead were piled high in the streets, as there was nowhere to bury them. Titus needed nothing more for victory, but his task was to annihilate the people completely. His troops stormed the city, slaying men, women and children and burning the city to the ground so nothing remained[2].

The world doesn’t change. The situation of those imprisoned in Jerusalem in 70 CE is not too different from that of those in many parts of Syria in 2014. The city of Homs has been under siege for two years now. Its inhabitants – men, women and children – have lived on grass boiled in water and killed cats for food. Schools are shut, only one hospital remains open and there is no electricity or running water. Those who emerged during the recent cease-fire were gaunt and hollow-cheeked, often caked with dirt. No one has been excluded from the horror, not the elderly, the disabled or the very young.

Syria is perhaps the most graphic example of a world gone wrong, of the way in which human beings can inflict the most horrific suffering on their brothers and sisters and of the way in which our primal fears can boil over into violence and destruction. As the world waits with bated breath to see what will be the outcome of the strife in the Ukraine, we cannot overlook the fact that Syria and the Ukraine are not isolated situations but are the face of a world in crisis – a world which reveals the very worst that humankind can be. Even to begin to list the nations at war or in the grip of civil strife would take too long. What is more, our minds simply cannot encompass the scale of suffering on a global scale. War and civil strife are just one example of a world that bears no hint of a good creator God. When we add to that human trafficking, extreme poverty, corrupt or ineffectual government, we could be tempted to ask: “Is this the world that God loves so much that he sent his Son?”

The answer is of course a resounding “yes”!

Today’s readings remind us that God’s love is not restricted to a privileged few or to those parts of the world that are free from strife and turmoil. God’s love reaches out to include the whole world.

The biblical story of God’s inclusive love begins in Genesis with Abraham and Sarah (12:1-4a). When God calls Abraham, God’s intention is clear – it is to make Abraham the Father of many nations – “in you all the families of the world will be blessed”. Initially it appears that through Abraham, God has chosen a select group of people for Godself. Certainly that is how the story plays out for centuries. All the while though there are constant hints that God’s love extends farther and embraces those who do not belong to the family of Abraham. Consider the following for example. Rahab was an outsider, yet it was she who enabled the victory at Jericho and facilitated entry into the Promised Land. Ruth, the forebear of Jesus was not a member of the Hebrew nation. God relented and saved the Gentiles city of Nineveh (despite Jonah’s objection) and the Psalmist tells us that all nations will flock to Jerusalem. Even Cyrus the King of Babylon is called God’s “anointed”. It is clear that God’s love and attention was not focused on the children of Abraham alone.

Paul picks up on this theme in both the letter to the Romans (4:1-17) and the letter to the Galatians (3:3-9). It was, he informs his readers, always God’s intention to include all people within the ambit of God’s love. No one is privileged in God’s eyes, all are equally worthy of God’s loving attention. “God is the father of all of us (Rom 4:16).”

It comes as no surprise then to read the familiar words of John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son”.

God’s love in not (and never was) restricted to a limited few, to those who belong to a particular group or to those who behave in a certain prescribed way. God’s love doesn’t pick and choose and it certainly does not wait until the world is ready or worthy of that love. The Palestine to whom God sent his Son was far from an ideal microcosm of human existence – far from it. In the first century, the Hebrew people were compromised, conflicted and divided, their priests were, at best, servants of Rome and, at worst, men seeking wealth and aggrandizement. Despite all this, it was to such a broken and imperfect people that God chose to send his Son.

Nothing much has changed – the world that God loves continues to be a long way from perfect but that doesn’t stop God from loving. However unlikely it seems, however undeserving the world continues to be, God reaches out in love giving us the opportunity for salvation. What it takes is for us to respond, for us to choose light over darkness, salvation not destruction.

God so loves the world – how then should the world respond?


[1] Aslan, Reza, Zealot – the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Random House, 2013, 60ff.

[2] Vespasian’s Triumph, the procession of slaves and spoils of war were immortalized in the arch which can still be seen in Rome today.

The world God loves.

Devastation in South Sudan

Devastation in South Sudan

Riots in Egypt in 2013

Riots in Egypt in 2013

Syrian refugees lining up for food Syrian refugees lining up for food

Destruction of HomsDestruction of Homs


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