A couple decades ago I was talking with a Christian friend about the vicissitudes of life, and about the maddening corruption and treachery we saw all around us.
“This world is hopeless,” my friend said conclusively, in spiritual summary of what we’d discussed.
I recognized his attitude as a core feature of orthodox Christian doctrine, which assesses a fallen world, full of sin, and resignedly accepts that fallen man is simply incapable of improving conditions. Incapable, that is, beyond temporary intervals of marginal revival and renewal, however worthwhile and glorious.
Hoping for some kind of man-made, permanent solution to evil, in this life, is vanity. God does promise us final deliverance, but not according to any timetable or scheme of our own damaged apprehension.
Nonetheless, we can absolutely rely on the perfect triumph of God over human evil through Jesus Christ in our inner lives, and on the threshold of eternity, as long as we trust in Him.
There’s the rub. Around that same time in my life, I’d heard another friend in a meeting exclaim “Don’t use hope–hope’s got a hole in it–use trust instead.”
Hope has that inherent, ever-present, subtly anxious aspect of things possibly still not going the right way after all, whereas trust(faith) utterly, decisively relies with certainty on everything working for good, by God’s grace, in the end, through forgiving, and being forgiven.
This is the attitude we must keep in mind while we survey the ungodly devastation of all we hold dear in what used to be our country by this evil, disgustingly dishonest Obama regime: How to cope, on a daily basis, with all this endless criminal Obama tyranny?
It turns out to be simpler than we sometimes think. Especially once we’ve already gotten ourselves so mentally and emotionally wrapped around the axle of external appearances and earthly concerns.
We still have to fight the good fight on principle, and because it’s imperative to do what our consciences command.
But don’t expect to find the kingdom of heaven in current events. It truly is within, in one’s inner life of letting go of ego-control, and of forgiving those who trespass against us. That really is the only way to peace of mind, and to divine forgiveness of our own inevitable transgressions against God’s perfect standard.
Invest yourself too much in political and worldly conflicts, and alleged remedies, and you’re setting yourself up for insurmountable tribulations and anguish.
Not a single person reading this is perfect. Nobody is without some kind of hypocrisy or shortcoming or sin in their life. Of course, some are by standards much worse than others, but only God knows anyone’s totality of circumstances, and the true proportions of accounts. “Don’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides.”
All politicians, even the good ones, understand that in order to succeed, their operative principle must involve at least some level of dishonesty. This is because they realize that in general, people do not actually want to hear the truth. In reality, people mostly want to hear sugar-coated bromides, and lies of all kinds. This is just the way the world is.
Political philosophers from Plato to Machiavelli to Marx, whatever their respective merits, mainly recognized the facts of political reality, regarding the public’s lack of appetite for constant candor and frankness. So we shouldn’t get too upset when contemplating the status quo; that a significant plurality of the voting population actually laps it up eagerly when our leaders lie to us. There isn’t much we can do about it, except forgive them–and thereby be forgiven for our own sins, as outlined in Christ’s specific instructions on how to pray(Matthew 6:9-13, known as The Lord’s Prayer).
To forget the need for a certain level of wholesale detachment is to surely incur some amount of mental illness, dangerous derangement, and ill-temper.
Enlightenment, good humor, spiritual growth, and true progress comes with a healthy amount of just not giving a too much of a crap.
It sure is a sometimes puzzling paradox when we consider the simultaneous counsel of “hold on” while also being told to “let go” when, for instance, we turn for relief to the contemporary 12-step culture, which is really along the lines of the same duality of reflection found in Biblical and Eastern mysticism alike, down through the millennia.
For many years I struggled to reconcile all of this apparent contradiction. Particularly troubling to me was what I saw as cryptic and(to me) unsatisfactory messages being conveyed in Christianity, particularly the allegory known as “The Parable of the Shrewd Manager,” also known as, “The Parable of the Dishonest Steward“(Luke 16:1-13).
Anyone familiar with that New Testament passage may have shared my consternation about its real meaning. And when I consulted with Christians about it, none of them seemed to grasp or adequately answer the profound issue at hand.
But now, years later, I think I’ve got it.
In the parable, I think the master represents God, and the steward who has been accused of having mismanaged his master’s resources represents fallen man, unable to meet the perfect standard of God without falling short, in sin.
The manager realizes he has hopelessly transgressed against his master, and cannot save himself from being cast out; fired from his job–condemned. But he realizes there’s still a way he can open doors of security and safety, salvation, for himself. He tells his master’s debtors to change the amounts on their bills, to lop off big chunks of their debts, and be absolved of owing the full amounts.
Before he is actually fired, acting as the agent of his master, the steward forgives his master’s debtors up to half of their amounts owed, thereby guaranteeing that they are indebted to him, instead, for the relief they experience, and will later welcome him into their homes and feed him.
The master, learning of this, actually commends the manager for his shrewdness in using worldly wealth to win friends who can sustain him indefinitely after the time of reckoning.
Interpretations of this parable are all over the place. Some remark that it seems the passage amounts to Jesus somehow seeming to say that such dishonesty is to be rewarded, and others say that it is a lesson directed at the Pharisees’ love of money, but I think it is saying something else entirely.
Jesus is saying that since there’s no hope of sinful man ever satisfying God’s perfect ideal, the only way for man to be saved from rejection by God is if man in turn lets his fellow man off the hook in the same manner that he would like God to forgive him. This is one of the key principles in so much of the New Testament.
Seeing as there’s no hope, you can just abandon the doomed strategy of hoping, and instead absolutely trust in the saving grace of forgiveness, so long as you don’t really dwell on a strict accounting of the debts and shortcomings of others. Those you forgive will welcome you into the carefree afterlife of Heaven.