The world is a bad and bitter place. Just when we begin to relax and let down our guard, the evil one rears his head and brings sin crashing down around us.
The apostle Paul pictures the entire creation as groaning under the weight of sin. “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now” (Romans 8.22 NET). It was, he said, “subjected to futility” (v. 20).
No corner of the material universe escapes the ravages of sin. The brunt of it is born by the one responsible, man himself.
Pockets of happiness and moments of festivity mask the damage done, but on a clear day the devastation becomes evident for as far as the eye can see.
We complain that the media tells only bad news, but our world is full of evil. The silent desperation too often breaks the surface. The slow slide into the abyss at times turns into a free-fall over the cliff into hell.
Power seeks to dominate. Greed breaks whatever rule for gain. Licentiousness uses people and consumes itself in desire. When given an opening, madness wreaks its destruction.
We note the big explosions, but the cracks appear in every edifice.
The pressure of the prince of this world crumbles the earth into a billion clods of individual despair.
No national pride, no touted progress, no vaunted philosophy can long hide the fissures that sprout from deep within the human psyche.
The majority pretend it isn’t so. Those who see it with clarity go mad.
Into a fevered cauldron of political and social unrest came the Prince of Peace. For a world on fire from its own kleptomania, God gave the water of life, offered from his own human hand. Astride a planet bent on its own destruction, the only Wonder of the World cried “Stop!” and plucks, even today, a few from among the carbonized masses.
“Come,” he says, into a place of wholeness, sanity, and plenitude. Here is blessedness, here is the prosperous soul, here is the society where good prevails and peace rules.
In the kingdom of God have come salvation and power and the benevolent reign of Christ (Revelation 12.10).
The call to enter the kingdom invites to glory and holiness (1 Thessalonians 2.12).
This kingdom consists, not “of food and drink,” nor of physical pleasures and material gains, “but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14.17).
Outside of this kingdom are the unrighteous (1 Corinthians 6.9-10), flesh and blood and all that is perishable (1 Corinthians 15.55), all the works of the flesh (Galatians 5.19-21). The world cannot secretly infiltrate nor blatantly overpower this kingdom. Of this we can be confident (Ephesians 5.5).
In the kingdom freedom and boldness mark its subjects, because love has liberated them for selfless service and for shameless recruitment of those chained by their transgressions and beaten down by a cold and cruel race.
Man for himself becomes God for man and man for the eternal presence.
The walls against the world are strong in this kingdom, but the door is ever open. Inside, the hearth is warm, the table is laden, the laughter is at no man’s expense. At the head sits he with the scars, and at his feet fall his grateful subjects whenever they consider the veil through which he passed for them.
In his council every citizen sits with him, poring over plans to invade the adversary’s realm for yet another rescue. For they remember their own shackles of pain and the unexpected messengers of life who broke their bonds with the Good News of peace.
They absorb their captain’s compassion, and for him they ready themselves to pay any price for he who gave his life for them.
The world is a bad and bitter place.
And we know where refuge is, that wide space and watered plain in the kingdom of God.