The Greatest Whatever

In an age of increasing sensitivity to what people have been calling diversity and equality the use of comparative and superlative adjectives has become a hypocritical chess game. As a result, parenting has become a parental black hole. Leading has become figure-headed wandering. Excellence has been downgraded to “great efforts”, everyone takes home a trophy, and the truly great ones are hidden behind bullying, prejudice, and insignificant conflicts based on the love of gain, personal and national pre-eminence.

The colonial and imperial mentality with its greed and domination motifs, heroes and villains, still pops up from time to time, reminding us that humanity is what it is: a creature with options. The current Canadian furor about the word “sons” in the national anthem illustrates how thought leaders can pettifog, pretending to be aiming for the sky in recognizing diversity and equality. It has not dawned on Canadian patriots, to tease out how the First Nations lost their sovereignty, in Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, South America, and the Levant. Who are the heroes and villains in the great slave of Africans?

O Canada! Our home and native land!

True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North strong and free!

From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Here is an example of the greatest nothing. Polls (for changing/against) report: 4/31, 594/5398, 3/9, and 12%/83%. Since when does son not mean offspring, adopted or otherwise, especially in a nation with an English language heritage? Since when does we or our not include the speaker (the singer)? What is Canada’s gender? Why is this anthem using 16th century pronouns: thy, thee? Millions of believers read and study the best-seller of all time in the same 16th century language as the anthem uses, the King James Version of the Bible. Just look up sons in the Christian heritage!

On the trail of the greatest we find all eyes looking back in time, way back, to ancient Babylon, the Medo-Persian empire, Greece and Rome, the first and second world wars. The present is irrelevant, because labelling anyone as the greatest other than a martial arts fighter who just knocked out the opponent runs the risk of calling someone a loser. To call something the greatest is to relegate another to “the pits”, and we can’t have that, can we? There are however men, women, boys and girls, all over the planet who are the greatest.

Malalal Yousfazai is the bravest victim of Taliban misogyny and backwardness. I could be wrong.

What label does Nelson Mandela deserve? What wreath will Barack Obama wear? Does not Winnie Churchill ought to have a crown for standing up to Hitler? Which of the trading nations will rise to the top of the list of Babylon’s prostitute daughters? Does anyone want to claim the title “Greater than Babylon the Great”?

We thought Solomon was wise. What is his legacy in connection with the revealed wisdom of his ancestors? We were sure that Moses was legislator par excellence. Where are his disciples today? We thought the caesars and Alexander were great. Where exactly is their squeaky-clean legacy?

By the way, doesn’t the biggest sword go hand in hand with the biggest shop?

And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. Revelation 6:4

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. Revelation 18:23

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: Revelation 18:11

The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, Revelation 18:12

And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. Revelation 18:13

Which nation will stand up as the refuge for oppressed people?

Which nation will take the prize for a religion (culture?) of intolerance of foreigners?

Which nation will stand up for the equal right of all its people?

Which nation wears the crown for its drug culture?

Who wields the biggest sword?

Who built the longest wall?

Where is the peace and security the United Nations is supposed to guarantee?

Don’t everybody stand up now.

Envelope please. The Oscar goes to ………………………….the greatest … magician who has … disappeared from the front row.

The search continues. Nobody wants to be the greatest any more.

Do I know You?

Look at what they are saying about Yeshua!  Without a gospel filter – Biblical sunglasses – the path leads to the brink of a contradictory and unproductive life.  Remember how Peter opposed the Lord’s last journey to Jerusalem?  He thought he was on to something noble but he had no idea how much of a stumbling block (a skandalon) he was becoming.   Peter was not under condemnation; far from it.  He was a disciple under the Master’s intense scrutiny and tutelage.  Yeshua knew him too well.  The question of mutual knowledge is still relevant:  but it does not turn on how well do I know God, but does He know me.

Eager to find peer-approval we usually find ourselves saying yes to every proposal especially those that offer personal gain or comfort, but the road that leads to spiritual fruit and a graceful character is not on our fave list.  How can God recognize those who claim to follow His Messenger if they keep avoiding  the path?

An easy way to get people to say “Amen” is to say something that awes us whether it provides edification or some kind of  redemption or not.  Among the popular crowd-stirrers are “What God can do”, “God is the same, yesterday, today and forever”, “Only believe”, and the granddaddy of doublespeak “God is here in this room “.  We do not need deep Bible study to know that statements such as these are not absolute in their application to the Christian believer, and need to be interpreted.  For example: where do the  genocidal and xenophobic commands of God stand today?  Is swearing – the uttering of oaths – acceptable practice?

It seems that preachers have forgotten that Yeshua has something to say about what we have to say about Him.  We get audiences to jump and prance, sing and dance, and we declare that the sick are well and the bound are free.  In summary, we perform like the prophets of Baal on Mount Camel and like them we end up without a reliable witness.  What does Yeshua say?

If you want to spent your time on trances, healings,  exorcisms, and prophetic decrees, be prepared to hear “Do I know you?”

What is behind the preoccupation with physical healing if the Christian life is “all about the spirit”?  What is the point of God “coming into  a room” when His residence in believers is not on the agenda?  What is the point of telling people what God can do without an inkling of what He is doing?

The point of doing great things when you are a nobody, unknown to the Boss is that you are a like boxer punching the air, looking good at the weigh-in, but having nothing to show in the ring.

“Do I know you?” may be a mild disappointment when it comes from a peer or a superior, but when one comes to the great day of reckoning expecting a commendation for all the good stuff one has done the question is devastating.  “Do I know you?”  is a stiff rebuke to people who thought that all they needed to do in following Messiah and obtaining His approval was to accumulate brownie points for demonstrating miraculous powers, prophecy, and exorcism.   It is far better to rely on belonging rather than on performance.

Yeshua’s first disciples, after conducting a missionary tour,  were overjoyed that they could exercise power over demons, but Yeshua cautioned them and advised them that their priorities were in disarray.  According to Yeshua, they ought rather to be in joy-mode over the fact that they had been enrolled as kingdom citizens (Luke 10:17-20)

“I never knew you” is the last thing you want to hear from the great Rewarder.  So why don’t we get on with the love: receive it and serve others with it.  Let us carry on with the hope: receive it and inspire others with it.  Let us make our faith count: make sure, above all, that we are known.  It is Peter, the same, scandalous and brash big brother, who seems to have learnt this important lesson as we read in his letter.

For this reason, brethren, be all the more in earnest to make sure that God has
called you and chosen you; for it is certain that so long as you practise these
things, you will never stumble. 2 Peter 1:10