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What on earth is happening? (3)

Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.      Mark 13: 5-8


Am I really that gullible? Do I really believe that President Putin will be good for the Russian people? For the world? And yet the BBC suggested this week that he might “feel vindicated by his election win, reinforced in the view that what Russia needs is a strong leader, willing to impose order at home and lash out at foreign enemies (whether real or imagined).”


Vladimir Putin is one who could well today be saying (see above) “I am!” with all that this means. In other words “I am what this nation needs, what this world needs, the answer.” (When Jesus said “many will come in my name” he didn’t mean that “Jesus” would be on their birth certificate.)


The fact that many knowledgeable observers believe that President Putin does indeed have the support of over 50% of the Russian electorate is very challenging. If so, has “democracy” gone wrong? Has the will of the people, so beloved even of religious institutions, become faulty?


It wouldn’t be the first time if democracy has achieved an unwelcome outcome. Hitler had the free and unequivocal support of the vast majority of the German people – and of most Christians in Germany at that time.


I have to ask myself again; am I really that gullible regarding President Putin? Are you? If you and I aren’t that gullible, how is it that we know better than 70,000,000 million (half of the) Russian people?


Yes – you’ve got it. Our interests are different from theirs. Does this not explain and confirm the words of Jesus above: “when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.


We see this, in particular, with regard to Iran. The American people watch them develop nuclear weapons and plan to bomb them before they do.


Yes, people have to go to war so as to stop war. Again and again.


What about the “earthquakes” and “famines”? Suffice it to say that people have to deal with them too. And a host of other calamities. Why, why, why?


(By the way, is it important for Jersey folk to know the answer given that, when all is said and done, we aren’t suffering?)


Given that you and I aren’t gullible, what do we think of Jesus’ explanation of the Putins and the Assads, the wars and the fears-of-wars, the earthquakes and the famines? His explanation is - “These are but the beginning of the birth pains.


We know that birth pains precede a new creation. Can these horrible birth pains achieve that – a new baby, a new beginning? What exactly is being promised by Jesus?


Jesus spoke the above words only a day or two before he was (wrongly and cruelly) put to death as a criminal found guilty by two separate Court sittings – one Court being a religious one; the other being that of the most powerful Empire the world had ever seen – Rome. To what did Jesus’ particular personal experience of war give birth?


It brought into being the availability of the forgiveness of sins for all men and women who decide to go his way. And it also brought into being those men and women having the life of God within - the spirit of God that brings about, in them, the ability to forgive also, to love enemies, to love righteousness and to hate evil.


A new birth indeed – for the world in the world to come. After the war. After Putin, Assad, Iran, nuclear weapons, America, earthquakes and famine.


After all, daffodil bulbs give rise to daffodils.

‘Nothing is or can be accidental with God.’ (Henry W Longfellow, poet and educator, 1807-1882)
‘God would never permit evil if he could not bring good out of evil.' (Thomas Watson, preacher and writer, 1620-1686)
Richard Syvret

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