Human beings have deep and fallen passions that propel us into continual conflict with one another, the theme behind “Troy,” the movie based on Homer’s “Iliad.” We are stuck in a pattern from which we can be freed ONLY by embracing the paradoxical kingdom of God. Christians are to imitate Christ, period; we are not called to create another version of the kingdom of the world.
Greg started by reading Matt. 26:52 and John 18:36; then, after the opening prayer, he commented on the recent movie Troy. One positive aspect of the film was its faithfulness to Homer’s Iliad, the story it is based upon. One of the central themes of the Iliad is the inevitability and futility of war and conflict in human history. And this is exactly what the kingdom of this world is all about. We don’t have to look far for recent examples. Just recently, as you know, our soldiers abused Iraqis. In response, some militant Iraqis beheaded an American named Berg. This tit-for-tat mentality mirrors both Troy and the kingdom of this world: the one-of-yours-for-one-of-ours attitude is rampant. When someone we love is killed, we rightly feel a sense of holy indignation. After all, we have been violated, hurt deeply; we want justice and maybe even vengeance. But we must realize that this is exactly what the Iraqis felt. Do not say, “But our position is the really just one…” because that is exactly what the Iraqis believe too. Human conflict is as inevitable as it is futile.
Greg pointed out just a few of the innumerable conflicts that come to mind…Palestine/Israel, Bosnia, Serbs and Croatians, etc…etc…The bottom line is that human beings have deep and fallen passions that drive us into continual conflict with each other. “For God and country,” we go against the opposition, and they against us. This is the kingdom of the world’s way, something Troy captures well. The Iliad describes gods who use humans as pawns by playing them off of each other, a concept reiterated in the Bible. Such a pattern of violence never ends – the victim victimizes and the cycle continues.
Only a radically new way of being can free us from this pattern: the Kingdom of God. Christ demonstrates this new Way, the only Way of Truth and Life. Paradoxically, this way of living starts with dying. We must crucify ourselves in order to stop the pattern. Our confidence is in the fact that the Kingdom of God will win in the end. The Bible promises when we die to ourselves we will find ourselves. Being dead to the world is equivalent to being alive to God. When we live like this, the world will see it and know that God is real and that Christ is the true way. Love will be recognized by its effects. We must live in so that others might see the fruit, the effects, of our love!
When the term “Christian” merely identifies a set of positions and religious beliefs rather than a way of being that looks like Jesus, things get confusing. We are here to imitate Christ, not create another version of the kingdom of the world.
The fundamental point of the recent sermons has been that the Kingdom of God is not the same as the kingdom of this world. If the difference is to be known and felt in the world, it will only be because Christians are faithful to their one Master and clearly follow that one vision that the Kingdom of God proclaims. It is simply Christ-like “power under” others by serving others at cost to ourselves. This always results in a contagious beauty – people are drawn to it! It has a way of bringing out the best in people. Greg closed by quoting the vision that motivated Mother Teresa: “When I wash a leper’s wounds, I feel I am caring for Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?” We need to get a vision like this!
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