Live In Defiant Hope
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. - George Orwell, 1984
The quote above is the first line from George Orwell's classic novel, 1984--a dystopian parable that addresses the consequences of government over-reach, totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of all persons and behaviours within society.
Now some of you are probably starting to tense up a bit. Relax... this isn't going to be a politically charged devotion.
However, I am going to talk a bit about religion and how within religion, totalitarianism is often disguised as "tradition," and repressive regimentation of all persons is often disguised as "biblical interpretation."
These are important conversations to have because there's a lot of misguided people out there in our culture, claiming to speak for God.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but ultimately they end up sounding more and more like people who are claiming the clock is striking thirteen even though everyone else knows dang well it isn't.
There's a pervasive kind of fatalism that exists within some lanes of the Christian tradition that tend to lead many people who claim to follow Jesus down the wrong road.
In essence, they come to believe that the world is going to be destroyed, and a bunch of people who aren't part of the "in" crowd along with it, so they shouldn't be all that concerned with the "things of this earth...."
Which apparently includes care for Creation, injustice, and for some... wearing masks in public to care for themselves and others.
And all of this is backed up by a benighted view of the Bible that uses Scripture as a weapon or a defence mechanism, depending on the argument.
Further, if someone within those faith communities stands up to speak of a different way---a "more excellent way" to coin a phrase from the New Testament--they tend to get shouted down, or worse... ostracized.
The 19th century English writer J.C. Ryle once wrote:
Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary. At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished.This is what keeps so many Christians silent on some of the things that are breaking the heart of God right now in our world---things that could be restored and resurrected right now if only we had the courage and holy imagination to do what God would have us do.
There's something amazing going on right now, though---change is in the air.
My sense is that there is a reformation afoot within the Christian church in America--one that has been bubbling for a while.
We have been put through a crucible, and now we have an opportunity to come out of this challenging season with a renewed sense of holy purpose, a renewed sense of our identity as the hands and feet of Christ.
I heard a line from a song by the band Bring Me The Horizon the other day that has been sticking with me for a while. The line asks, "When we forget the infection/Will we remember the lesson?"
I hope so---with defiant hope. I hope that when we come through the other side of this (and we will) that we will have had the good sense to let go of the traditions that became idols in the old world. I hope that we will have the courage to stand, and after standing the courage to move.
Because if we have the courage to do both, we will find Jesus on the way, continuing to make all things new, restoring what was lost in amazing moments that will surprise us to no end.
Live in hope. Live with eyes wide open, hearts ready to be transformed and minds prepared to be blown. Live in hope. The clock isn't striking thirteen... no matter what they tell you. Live in hope---defiant hope.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.