sexta-feira, 4 de março de 2016


The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
Isaiah 11.6

This was the prophet Isaiah’s beautiful vision of the future, but this passage describes a reality exactly the opposite of that vision. He lived in a time of decay, desolation and devastation. The Davidic dynasty was over. Chaos reigned along with intrigue and uncertainty. Isaiah had a vision of restoring the glory of the reign of King David. But that turned out to be an unfulfilled dream. Those days of glory were gone, never to return.

Centuries later, the first generation Christians took up the vision and believed that Jesus would be the new David and finally make this vision become reality. Everything was supposed to happen before the end of that generation. Time passed, but nothing happened.

The book of Revelation is another example of a vision of an ideal social order that never materialized. Every generation since Jesus’ time has invented new antichrists and new “signs of the times” to show that we are in the last days before “God’s reign” will break in on humanity, but each one passes without anything ever happening. I have seen several predictions come and go during my lifetime. People keep inventing excuses for the delay and keep inventing new theories and “discovering” new antichrists. They are wise to wait sitting down.

In reality we are getting further and further removed from this ideal of peace on Earth when harmony will reign supreme. Christianity has never even come close to this ideal. The history of Christianity is a series of failures in terms of peace and justice. Christians are no better than the world they criticize! Christianity is divided into intolerant groups: Catholic vs. Protestant, traditional vs. fundamentalist, conservative vs. liberal and orthodoxy vs. liberation just to mention a few. Our “Christian” civilization is drifting further and further from the achievement of this ideal. Today not even the lambs can lie down together. Instead, they invent new wolves to battle against while fussing among themselves.

This ideal can never become an institutional reality (religious or secular). No religious or political charismatic leader can enforce this Kingdom. There have been innumerable attempts in the past, but all have fizzled out one way or another. These attempts resulted in even more tyranny and injustice that they tried to replace. The churches that have succeeded Jesus have become anti Kingdoms when they try to impose norms on their followers. Attempted paradises develop into hells.

At best, it can become an inner reality. Jesus never tried to organize any kind of society or movement. He laid out principals that could be lived out in any society. For Jesus the Kingdom of God is not something that people organize or promote, but something that comes from within and reveals itself through or lives wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

The Kingdom is spontaneous, springing from within. We can become a part of it, but not impose it. The gift of the Kingdom is the living of justice and being at peace even with those who are radically different from us. The figures of wolf and lamb, leopard and goat and calf and lion show that tolerance and respect are the gifts of the Kingdom. But we are so wrapped up in the concept of power that tolerance and respect have become suffocated.

I find that the Beatitudes of The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-11) is the best guideline for living the vision of Isaiah or the Kingdom as it is described by Jesus:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted
because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say
all kinds of evil against you because of me.

The Kingdom will come only if we live peace now in this world torn by greed, fear and hate.

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