Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another inaugural address

Gospel writer Matthew presents much of our Lord's preaching in the form of one long message, towards the beginning of his biography. You might call it the King's "inaugural address," as He commences His public ministry. Every king makes promises. So, too, did İsa:
Ne mutlu ruhta yoksul olanlara! Göklerin Egemenliği onlarındır.
Ne mutlu yaslı onlanlara! Onlar teselli edilecekler.
Ne mutlu yumuşak huyla onlanlara. Onlar yeryüzünü miras alacaklar.
Ne mutlu doğruluğa acıkıp ve susayanlara! Onlar doyurulacaklar.
And a few words:
  • Ne mutlu -- how blessed!
  • Göklerin Egemenlik -- Kingdom of Heaven. You may recognize the word borrowed from the Greek, "hegemon."
  • doğruluk -- righteousness
The Muslims I number among my friends earnestly yearn to live right with God. They "hunger and thirst" after righteousness. The vile Hollywood myth (that faith and family do not matter) profoundly disturbs much of the world. The desire to live by transcendent, eternal values gives people of faith an edge over people who believe in nothing. The future looks problematic for post-Christian secular Europe. They imported Muslim laborers to replace the children they were too selfish to have, and are now trying to figure out how to deal with a virile and culture in their midst that has no desire to assimilate into the culture of godless hedonism.

In 1992, an English teacher and I conversed at length while enjoying a city-sponsored cruise on the glorious Dnieper river. She had grown up believing that Ukrainians and Russians were Slavic brothers working together to build an ideal civilization. Then, the wall came down, and the archives opened. Her entire frame of reference was discredited. She hoped her 14 year old son would believe in God, though, and was glad that we had come from America to talk to her people about God. She was not yet ready to believe, however, and I have often prayed for her since. William Conrad's novel Victory deals with a man who seeks refuge from the world in stoic unbelief, and finds that option totally futile.

As a Christian, I grieve for my friends who yearn for righteousness, but are "barking up the wrong tree."[1] As a person of faith, however, I believe that God can and does make Himself known to those who seek.


[1] American metaphor derived from coon hunts. The prey eventually is "treed," and the hounds surround the tree barking madly. Unless, of course, they are "barking up the wrong tree."

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