Summer approaches and the ants have returned. If you don’t care about that sort of thing, fine. If you can’t stand them on hygiene grounds, then you go mad trying to get rid of them. The frustration that results from feelings of powerlessness and failure is irritating. We’ve all been there. This of course is rather insignificant in the scheme of things, but it prompted me to think about why we are here at this blog. This place has become a kind of rallying-point for people with “conservative” views, a place where they can express them without fear of being censored by “liberals” or the “thought police”. At times we have seen great fervour/angst expressed: people are moved when what matters to them is threatened.
On a recent Easter-tide walk with my family I made the following observation: around the time my parents were growing up, people believed that we were making progress (modernism or the Whig view of history); as I have grown up, witnessing 9/11 and the 2008 Recession, people are impressed with a feeling of despair and decay. “It’s not supposed to be this way,” is a deeply felt sentiment from people across the political and religious spectrum. In political circles, we see it expressed in the desire for more stringent legislation or the desire for many laws to be repealed. Amongst the religious there is a great desire to see God’s kingdom manifested in power upon the earth: the Muslims look for the emergence of the Mahdi and Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah); the Jews look for the Messiah to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem; and Christians hope to see the Jesus they know and love set foot on the Mount of Olives.
Most of us here at AATW could never be relativists. We have a deeply ingrained sense of truth as a constraining force. The application of truth to the world of experience may be a tricky matter, but when we ask the question, “Is Jesus the Son of God?”, we expect a yes or no answer – none of this “true for you, but not for me” business. Our uncompromising view of what truth is will lead to frustration in a world that is increasingly relativistic and chaotic. Out of such frustration come prayers and actions – but also resignation. There are those who work hard to evangelize because they know that true cultural change will only happen when the hearts and minds of a people change, and this can only be done through the power of the Spirit; legislation is insufficient. However, these people have their counterparts, the crowd that believes evil can only really be removed by the return of Christ.
The Middle East is an interesting case study for these two (conflicting?) feelings in the Christian heart. On the one hand, one can see the intractable problems at the geopolitical level: oil, religious divides, ethnic divides, a long history of empires and conquest, cultural imperialism, poverty and slavery, the “orphan mentality”, the “saving face” problem. This list goes on. On the other hand, there are wonderful stories of conversion, of evangelism, of compassion amidst oppression and diversity. If you need a reminder of the good that is being quietly achieved by the Church in the stronghold of Islam, look at the following ministries: Frontier Alliance International; Iran Alive Ministries; Rescue Christians; Antecessor Rapid Response; Global Catalytic Ministries; Joel Richardson; Open Doors; Canon Andrew White; and many more. God has a presence in that land.