Blood in the Streets
How prone we are to miss the drama. The tyranny of the urgent, the plainness of our patterns, and our propensity to look inward rather than outward all push us to regard our callings, our surroundings, and our souls as rather dull affairs. We read of the great upheavals of history, then find ourselves scraping the burnt remains of casseroles off dishes. We watch Hollywood make believe about terrifying invaders from outer space, then go home to balance our checkbooks. We, according to Jesus, construct foolish drama by worrying about what we will eat or what we will wear while missing the battle of eternity that is going on right before our eyes.
When Jesus calls us to cease worrying about those things the heathen worry about, He isn’t inviting us to heave a sigh of relief and flop down on our hammock with a glass of lemonade. No, we put down our petty concerns that we might take up the one vital concern, the kingdom of God.
Our Lord reigns. His kingdom knows no bounds, for all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. But there remains in His realm rebellion. There is work to do. In this country, we have once again denied the humanity of an entire class of people—the unborn. In so doing, we have shown forth our inhumanity. What may be worse is that this great evil demonstrates our lack of humanity. How twisted, how distorted, is a state that God ordained to punish evildoers, but that instead uses the sword God gave it to guard the grisly practitioners of this crime? How twisted, how distorted, are men who were made to protect and defend women and children, but who now drag their girlfriends, wives, or daughters to killing centers? How twisted, how distorted, are women who were made to nurture their babies, but who now hire assassins to kill them?
This, beloved, is the battle. Here is the drama. Souls of men and women are being twisted and slowly dragged into the very pit of hell. Babies are being burned alive, on purpose. And we, even though we have been made alive, even though we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, worry more about stock markets and football teams.
Right now, in our own neighborhoods, people’s lives are at stake. Every one of our neighbors, young or old, male or female, believer or not, will die. And when they die, they will become fully, finally, and forever one thing or another.
C.S. Lewis, in his classic work The Weight of Glory, reminds us what is at stake. He reminds us what is wood, hay, and stubble, and which jewels will shine evermore. In turn, he helps us see what this means for our todays—that forever counts right now.
It is a serious thing … to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no “ordinary” people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations— these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.
We don’t seek the kingdom merely when we read our Bibles or sing our hymns. We seek the kingdom when we love our wives and cherish our children. We seek it when we weep and mourn for the murder of our neighbors, and when we weep and mourn for our neighbors’ murderers. We seek the kingdom when we call on men to be men and women to be women. We seek the kingdom when we welcome the least of these into our lives, into our homes, and into our families.
The righteousness we seek for our justification is ours by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness—the sole ground of our right standing before God. Yet righteousness is also becoming ours in our experience through sanctification. We in Christ, despite all for which we have to repent, are being made into everlasting splendors. Despite all for which we must repent, despite all over which we mourn, despite all the horror of what we as a nation have become, we rejoice to know that we are citizens of another kingdom. We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We once were not a people, but now we are the people of God. We are those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. May we then keep our conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against us as evildoers, they may see our good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
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