June 12, 2014

Uncle Tom: Sellout or Soldout?

“This good news of the kingdom shall be preached in the entire world as a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.” –Jesus

Is the world becoming a better place to live?

According to Matt Ridley, in his book “The Rational Optimist,” there is incontrovertible evidence that it is.

He was taught to think the future was bleak.

The population explosion was unstoppable. Famine was inevitable. Pesticides were going to shorten our lives. The Ice Age was coming back. Acid rain was killing forests … All these things were going to go wrong.

Yet time and again, humanity survived doomsday. Not just survived, but flourished. Population increases, yet famine becomes rarer. More energy is used, yet the environment gets cleaner. Innovation and trade keep improving our lives.

People are much more interested in hearing about something that’s gone wrong. It sounds wiser to talk about what might go wrong than to talk about what might go right.

Or what already went right. Over the past 40 years, murder dropped by 40 percent, rape by 80 percent, and, outside of war zones, Islamic terrorism claims fewer than 400 lives a year. The last decade saw the fewest lives claimed in war since record keeping began…the big picture is good news.

In the news business fear sells. To insiders it is affectionately called “pessimism porn." Unfortunately, it is bad news that is driving the political, economic and social agenda in America today. Bad news breeding fear. Fear breeding antagonism. Antagonism breeding greater government control.

But what if the "end” to which Jesus is referring is a series of endings – to slavery, to disease, to tyranny, to oppression – that leads the world to the ultimate end: the end of death. In other words, if it truly is “good news” is it not reasonable to expect a measurable response to its impact?

Freedom unleashed by the Truth lived out by His Kingdom kind, unleashing human potential collaborating with the Spirit of Jesus is the effect of the life and message of Jesus Christ. The Spirit that is always working to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, a work that sets free and improves the human condition.

Case in point: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s blockbuster book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” described with poignant precision the wretchedness of slavery in America and the hypocrisy rampant in both the north and south, especially among the religious. A book that many viewed as the catalyst for the widening rift in American society leading to the Civil War.

But her greatest impact was in describing the quiet effects of true Christianity working in the hearts of men – black & white alike. “Uncle Tom” was not a picture of a compromising black man insulting the condition of his race, but a type of the Ultimate Man who lays down his life for his friends.

A true man who won’t be broken to accept the dictates of evil.
A loving man who lives to bless others.
A gentle man who refuses to be reduced to the beastly impulses of those who temporarily control the reins of power.
A great man who sacrificially serves the most pitiable around him raising their hopes and calming their fears.
A powerful man who quietly subjects himself to the insatiable rage of violent evil.
A dying man who’s unshakable faith in the freedom of heaven inspires courage and conviction leading to the freedom of his fellows.

The “Utopianists” of all ages hope in a better world, just like true believers. But for those, like Ridley, Ray Kurzweil, Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates, and many others, hoping in a humanistic, technology driven “New World Order,” their faith in the DNA of evolutionary processes will always shape (and justify) the outcome: the stronger will always out “fit” – and control – the weaker.

The DNA of the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus. He is the Good News that must be preached to the entire world. For it is his influence – righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit – continually working through His followers that makes the world a better place to live by making each individual a better person to be.

His Kingdom come.
His Will be done.
On Earth.
As it is in Heaven.

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