"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Is it a small world, after all?

        Nancy received a heart-warming portrait of her son and family, standing near the "It's A Small World After all" attraction at Disneyland. I feel like packing her CCTV over to Brenden House so she can get a good look at it.
        Bet she cries.
        She might not, however, understand my secondary reaction to the photo. The thought hit me with no little force: "Is it a small world, after all?"
        Inside the attraction we find thousands of nationally costumed dolls with different skin colors, dancing the same step in unison to the same music in happy circles, singing ... what else? "It's a Small World After All." By the time five minutes of that ride passes, the catchy refrain becomes permanently etched upon ones memory.
        Another thing I remember fifty-odd years after I rode through the Small World, is the odd similarity between the various children's faces. Despite their costumes and skin color, each displayed the same cute, doll face and the same insipid smile.
        As they say in Hollywood, "Message received, loud and clear."
        The Powers That Be maintain that our "global village" is just like Disney's vision of a Small World. We're all basically the same, why can't we all just get along?
        What a cute idea! All we have to do is make the Palestinians and the Israelis get along. Or North and South Korea. Or the Taliban and the Infidel world(that's everybody else, if you haven't noticed). Fact is, everyone is willing to get along with anyone, as long as "they" follow our rules.
        We in the nominally Christianized world can't understand or accept "their" practices of female circumcision, chopping off thieves' hands--or those of anyone with whom they take offense, or divorcing wives at the slightest whim ... oh, we do that too, don't we. Yet, we Westerners sing lead in Disney's one-world anthem.
        Human nature says, "Sin is what they do." And we add, "If only they were more like us." In truth, sin is no respecter of persons. We're all guilty of the "Big I, Little You" attitude. And each of our noses is perfectly capable of reaching rarefied atmosphere when someone fails to meet our approval.
        Though the Internet, international commerce, and world travel have made this a small world in some respects, we're still a world apart when it comes to accommodating "them." Both Communism and Fascism have tried to force order upon this chaotic world, and though they both failed miserably, they're still trying. What the Small World folks don't tell us, or can't even see, is "they" will never consent to live "our" way, because to them, we are the others.
        Long ago, a small group of people taught that not loving one another would lead to our destruction. And another group of folks back in the '60s and '70s trumpeted a similar message, but they completely missed the point. The kind of love needed to reverse our destruction and bring us together is completely foreign to all of humanity. It is called agape, and it belongs only to Elohim, and to those who love Him through His Son Yeshua. (If you don't recognize those names, they are "God" and "Jesus," respectively. Using their Hebrew names doesn't evoke all the Christianese baggage.)
        The unique thing about Christ's Way is the fact that it is not a religion. Rather, it is an individual life lived as He lived, multiplied by as many as choose that way. It is a way of living that causes no injury, but not simply out of custom or religious convention. It is God's living and active, agape love, filling the life of each person who yields to it.
        Folks accused that small group from long ago of turning the world up-side-down. Tragically, they never finished the job. Why? They became religious in practicing their faith. They established traditions, and gave them the same authority as God's word. They elevated some believers over others in an ecclesiastical hierarchy. They reduced prayer to a bunch of liturgy. They chained God's word to a podium enclosed within a grand, gold-encrested basilica, intended to glorify the very God whose word they imprisoned. And they made Jesus' sacrifice trivial by trying to ritualize it.
        Religion is all that and more, but salvation is only through appropriating Jesus' ONE sacrifice, personally, individually, permanently. That simple act of faith will, if genuine, begin filling the believer with a love so powerful that it will turn the world up-side-down.
        Or, despite Disney's dream, make it a small world, after all.

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