a Flaith na n-uile, rop tú mo baile.
…still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
“One of the effects of original sin is an instinctive prejudice in favor of our own selfish desires. We see things as they are not, because we see them centered on ourselves. Fear, anxiety, greed, ambition and our hopeless need for pleasure all distort the image of reality that is reflected in our minds.”Thomas Merton
Confession: I started this 20-part process quite a while ago. I had collected the first 14 installments (written in long hand) when I was “assigned” this project in 2018. I’ve simply been transcribing those and editing them into blog posts. But these last 6 are being written here in 2020.
Therefore, the context in which I began with the line “Be Thou My Vision” is entirely different than context in which I end, “STILL be my Vision…”. I could waste a lot of bandwidth restating this unprecedented chsnges in context, but why? We all know where we are. But do we know whose we are?
I am watching the divide between two schools of thought in our society grow. Schools which, on the surface, appear to be in direct opposition to one another. But just beneath the surface, they are made of the same substance. You can tell because they bear the same fruit: Anger, malice, wrath, slander and obscenities. (Colossians 3:8)
Let’s Paint with a really broad brush, shall we?
To run the risk of caricature, one group are the red-hat-wearing, nationalist-minded who demand that the borders close but that the economy open. “Sure there might be some death, but people die every day. Don’t tread on me! The elites can’t tell me what to do!” Facts are only facts when they support the cause. The ol’ saying that politics makes strange bedfellows holds true in that they are joined by fringe conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxers and other unlikely allies.
The other group are hand-wringing technocrats whose hunger for fashionable thought is only outweighed by their ability to be offended by anything. Free speech is only free for those they agree with. Dissent with anything defined as “progressive” is labeled hate/bigotry/phobia/ignorance and set afire. Movements, income, lifestyle and even thought should be monitored and…well, controlled. Allies are hard to keep because they are always suspiciously circling each other, monitoring for new offenses.
The common origins of these two groups is described by Merton: They begin and end with self. These groups are not just selfish, they represent a distillation of selfishness. A concentration and refinement of self-focus that is so pure, so complete and refined that the ability to sense the presence of an “other” with anything other than suspicion or contempt is no longer possible. They are actually becoming the cartoonish caricatures I have (admittedly) just sketched.
Of course there are many people who fall into neither caricature. But that number is shrinking. And the biggest question begged is: What keeps them from falling into one of these two pits?
It’s the Ruler-ship of Jesus Christ. His sovereignty. His Kingdom. Let’s be honest; sometimes Jesus’ teachings got a little cryptic. But one thing he made perfectly clear more often than anything else: The Kingdom of God has come! And he described that Kingdom in detail. Central to citizenship in His Kingdom are repentance, humility and servant-hood (among other very important things).
So, citizens of his Kingdom, followers of “The Ruler of All”, are mimics of their humble, selfless leader.
You cannot be a loyal “citizen”in the Selfish Kingdom of Right-Wing-Nationalistic Individualism and Jesus’ Kingdom. Sure, you can have political views, preferred candidates and policies – but if Jesus is to be Ruler of All…then these things cannot also rule you. (Matthew 6:24)
You cannot be a loyal “citizen” in the Selfish Kingdom of Left-Wing-Socialistic-Pluralism and Jesus’ Kingdom. Sure, you can have political views, preferred candidates and policies – but if Jesus is to be Ruler of All…then these things cannot also rule you. (Matthew 7:15-23)
Christian, cultural side-taking is not available to you…if Jesus is sovereign. You will stand against injustice when He calls you to do so. You will walk in freedom when He frees you.
Be Thou my vison. Let me see all through your eyes, Lord. Be my King and Commander. Be my All in All. Everything else be laid aside for you.