“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”Voltaire
In this picture there is a dog in a submissive pose, lying next to a soldier. For me this dog represents all the living beings who are yearning for humanity to stop its bent for destruction. We are the species that has the capacity for compassion, not just for human beings but for all beings, and so often we fail to live up to that capacity. Right now, we are witnessing large scale destruction by soldiers because of the rapacious desires of one man. The man in this picture looks with fondness on the beast at his feet — but will kill indiscriminately and destroy God’s creatures because he has received orders. The man’s fondness is small and limited. The dog knows.
Some years ago, I wrote a book that I called All Creation Waits: The Unfulfilled Promise of Christianity. It was published in 2009. If I wrote the book today it would be different. We cannot help but grow and change as the years go by and 2009 seems ages ago from where I stand today. Still, there are many parts of this book that I like and can recommend. Here is the poem I wrote for the first chapter:
Creation groans and is in agony… we called to free her, are her doom. God created and all was good, but God gave her to us to mind. Now she labors nearly in vain, yet not without a bit of hope. Ignorant of who we really are, God’s children walk asleep. Creation waits with patient hope for God’s children to awake. All Creation waits and yearns and longs to hear — the sleepers have awakened.Chapter one — All Creation Waits
The kingdom of God is not something we are waiting for. It is here, now. All the Gospels agree on this point. The theme of the preaching of Jesus was the coming of the kingdom of God through and in him. He constantly tells us to reform our lives, because the kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of God is both available now, and imminent. It is here, and it is coming. It is here now, but it is not fulfilled. The seed has been planted, but the plant is not fully grown.
The kingdom of God is not merely heaven. When Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God, he is not speaking about dying and getting to heaven. The kingdom of God is perhaps better expressed as the reign of God, or as God’s way of doing things. When we pray: “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” we are praying that God’s way of doing things will be done on earth in the same way as it is done in heaven. The kingdom of God is not a place, but a way to be in the world, and the way things already are in heaven. The kingdom of God exists wherever people are doing things in God’s way.
God’s intention for Creation is for good. God sees Creation as good already, even with all the chaos that disrupts it. God’s way of doing things leads to the peaceful coexistence of all of Creation. People, created in the image of God, are part of God’s plan for Creation. It can even be speculated that God has arranged things in such a way that the peaceful coexistence of Creation cannot happen without our cooperation. We are one of the ways that God interacts with Creation. We are one of the ways that God touches Creation. We are a significant part of God’s plan. Humanity was created for a purpose, and that purpose is to share with God in the plan of Creation. If we are part of God’s plan, how frustrating that so many people are unaware, unawake, and doing nothing to cooperate with God. We too often get it wrong, thinking that Creation was made for us, when in fact, we have been made for Creation.
We are created in the image of God, and this means there is that of God within each one of us. All human beings are fragments, facets, aspects, particles, bits and pieces of the reflection of God toward Creation. Even if we could somehow gather ourselves all together, each one of us cleaned up and perfect in our ability to reflect God, all of us together would still only be a fragment of the whole image of God. Nevertheless, we are utterly desirable and lovable to God, because God has created us that way. We are God’s children meant to be about God’s work and doing things in God’s way. Imagine the people of the world awakened to who they are as God’s children, and as God’s agents, and doing things in God’s way! God imagines it each day. God does not lose faith in us and is pursuing us down through every age. God is not only love, God is also hope.
It may be that God has been preparing for today’s world with its technological advances. This generation of human beings can be held more accountable than any past generation. The possibilities for creating a world more in line with God are greater today than ever before. Transportation to every corner of the earth is possible. We have the ability to move large quantities of food, clothing, building supplies, and whatever is needed, as well as helpful people, to any place on the globe. There is more than enough of everything to go around for every person, and today we have the ability to get things moved quickly to where they are needed. We also have the technology to communicate easily and quickly throughout the whole world and to coordinate all our efforts. The way is here, but is the will?
Instead, nations wage war on one another and trample over God’s creation. Repentance means to turn around and go in another way and is the call of Jesus as he begins his ministry. Stop doing things in ways that lead to disaster, violence and death, and choose the way that leads to life and peace. God offers us a life of abundant joy, filled with all good things, but people constantly choose to follow the ways that lead to disaster. All through the scriptures God tells us to “choose life!” People keep showing through their choices that they prefer the ways of death. History is filled up with stories of disaster and death, and we still do not learn. Instead, people tend to repeat violent patterns over and over again.
My beloved ones in Christ, let us be on God’s side and during this Lenten season turn away from all ways that lead to disaster, and choose life. Let us continue to pray for the people and living creatures of Ukraine. Let us pray that soldiers who are tools of destruction will wake up, see that what they are doing is wrong and will stop no matter what their leaders are saying!