Do you ever look around the world and wonder, “Is God really in control?” Doesn’t it seem more often than not that the ones who are in control are oppressing the people and the precepts of God. If God was in control, wouldn’t the Church have an increasing, rather than decreasing, influence on culture? If God was in control, wouldn’t my… and mean His agenda be moving forward?
Today, Walter reminds us of another follower of Jesus who struggled to see God’s control. And then Walter leaves us with a powerful question to ponder on this Wednesday with Walter.
From The Social Principles of Jesus by Walter Rauschenbusch. Chapter 3, “Standing with the People,” page 32.
SECOND DAY: The Social Test of the Messiah
And the disciples of John told him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to the Lord, saying, Art thou he that comets, or look we for another? And when the men were come unto him, they said, John the Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that cometh or look we for another? In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits; and on many that were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered and said unto them, Go and tell John the things which ye have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good tidings preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me. Luke 7:18-32. (Click here for a more contemporary translation.)
Was Jesus the Coming One? He did not quite measure up to John’s expectations. The Messiah was to purge the people of evil elements, winnowing the chaff from the wheat and burning it. His symbol was the axe. Jesus was manifesting no such spirit. Was he then the Messiah?
Jesus shifted the test to another filled. Human suffering was being relieved and the poor were having glad news proclaimed to them. Sympathy for the people was the assured common ground between Jesus and John. Jesus felt that John would recognize the dawn of the reign of God by the evidence which he offered him.
What, then, would be proper evidence that the reign of God is gaining ground in our intellect and feeling?
Nearly 2,000 years later, many of us still struggle understanding how Jesus is the Messiah or how God can be in control in a world that looks so out of control.
If we are honest, most of us want to rule the way the rest of the world rules — with strength and power. Moving forward our own agenda (thinly veiled as the agenda of God) with power and might.
Wether we are on the left or the right, we believe that to fight fire we need a little fire ourselves. We justify our own violence, or at least those who carry out violence on behalf of our beliefs, by saying we are fighting evil.
We just don’t think that the Messiah is cutting it anymore. We need action, and after all, we are doing it for Him!
And through the noise in my mind, the quiet example of Jesus cuts — echoed in the question of Walter, “What, then, would be proper evidence that the reign of God is gaining ground in our intellect and feeling?”
Do my intellect and feeling betray the type of Messiah for which I long? A military Messiah. A Messiah who isn’t afraid to say it the way it is. A Messiah who is willing to stand up. A Messiah who moves forward my… I mean His agenda!
I keep looking for evidence of God’s control in the world around me. Walter reminds me that I should be looking for evidence of God’s control within me. Within my mind. Within my heart.
I look for evidence that God has the whole world in His hands when far too often there is a lack of evidence that I have placed my mind, my heart, my life into into His hands.
Is there evidence of God’s control in our thoughts and feelings for those in need of protection?
Is there evidence of God’s control in our thoughts and feelings for our “enemies”?
Do we seek to promote our own agendas at any cost and by any means or do we truly seek to promote the agenda of Christ through self-sacrificing love? What do our intellect and feeling reveal about this? What evidence is there that the reign of God is gaining control — not in the world around us — but in the intellect and feelings within us?