Archive for May, 2007
I recently picked up Cleveland’s A History of the Middle East, an accessible work on the subject. After blazing through a 50 page synopsis of about one thousand years of history (from the beginning of Islam up to the 18th century), I was struck by how much that little bit of information began to change and challenge my outlook on the region and, more broadly, relationships between nations today.
In particular, what struck me was the sense that all nations are either in the process of being conquered or being a conquerer. I’m not a historian (I know some of you reading this are- I’d love to hear your comments), but my guess is that this has been and will the case throughout history.
What to do as a Jesus follower if this is true? Do we just sit back and watch? Do we get involved somehow, especially if this is an ongoing reality? I feel like I can begin to understand how Christians end up having different ideas about this.
For example, as a Jesus follower I might take a more passive approach, given the belief that the Kingdom (Jesus’ Kingdom) is what matters, and so be a little more passive in my involvement (note the below comment by Chase, distinguishing passivism and pacifism. This post has been edited as a result). The tension comes when a deeply corrupt and unjust nation comes around and begins to devastate humanity (eg- the 3rd Reich)- can Christians just be passive then? I can see how this might drive someone, especially in a democratic nation like the US, to get deeply involved in a nation’s foreign policy- there’s a belief that the ideas behind our government are good and can promote something better in a different area of the world, especially if other regions are devastating humanity. Yet at the same time, I can see why other Christians feel quite squeamish about this, especially if people go to the extreme of presenting a nation’s agenda as God’s agenda, seemingly equating a kingdom for the Kingdom in all its fulness.
As usual, there are no hard and fast rules in attempting to live for Jesus in our complex world. Being in a present kingdom and living for an already/not yet Kingdom is never easy…
As many of you can probably tell based off this blog, one of my passions in life is seeing Jesus contextualized/translated into other cultures. I read this article recently, and was greatly encouraged. It’s part of a larger project called The Christian Vision Project. If you haven’t checked out the essays, it’s definitely worth a look.