How do we humans overcome the ocean of darkness that inundates and blinds us? What are some steps for personal and cultural transformation?
#1 First, we need to realize that we are in the dark and that we need help. Then we need to seek, to have hope that there is Light, Truth to be found.
Listen to the words of Scripture:
"Eashoa came into Galilee proclaiming the good message of God, and saying, 'The time (kairos in Greek) is fulfilled, and the reign of God is come near; change your mind (metanoia) and put your trust in the good message...and Eashoa said to them, 'Follow me...'" Mark 1:14b-17a
#2 Note that Eashoa first emphasizes the positive. The message he has for humankind is of the goodness of God. All the bad news of our world especially the ponderous negativity of religions isn't the Truth.
#3 Become aware of the time. Eashoa isn't speaking of chronological time. After all, he came into northern Palestine/Israel and spoke these words nearly 2,000 years ago. If it's a matter of calendar time, it's a bit late:-)
What Eashoa refers to is the right time, the time of decision.
When is the time for you to seek Truth with total commitment? NOW. Don't tell yourself, "At present, I am too busy, but later..." or "I have plenty of time." We may or may not have plenty of chronological time, but we all have crisis time now.
#4 The reign of God is come near. Wow, what a deep philosophical concept! As a literature teacher and writer, not a biblical scholar, I don't presume to know all that this central key idea of the N.T. means. But at least the starter point is Eternal Truth/the Ideal/the Transcendent/the Perfect/Ultimate Reality has come near, has shown Light into this world.
The inequities and iniquities of human governments and cultures and individuals are to be defeated. The ruthlessness in Nature is to be overcome. Matter, Energy, and Chance aren't the last word, not the only reality. Indeed, they are only temporal. The Eternal Personal is the ultimate Truth.
#5 Change your mind. That is what the cliche word "repentance" means in the N.T. Eashoa isn't talking about beating yourself up emotionally or physically (like some religious individuals do) for your wrong thoughts and acts, nor of seeing yourself as worthless, totally depraved. Nor is this time to have an endless cycle of pity wallows.
Instead, if you are impatient, given to outbursts of anger, change your mind. Practice walking/working meditation of God's presence. Learn to pause when given to emotionally negative feelings.
Instead, if you think your earned income is your own, or even your family's, change your mind. If you already give 10% of your income to others for God, change your mind and adopt the graduated giving method suggested by Ronald Sider of the Brethren in Christ. As you earn more money (or have more time), you give more of it away--giving more and more to others in need as you income (or free time) increases.
Some followers of Jesus have reached a level of giving 90% of their earned income to meet the need of others and to proclaim the good message of God! Give of yourself to an organization working to heal and transform such as World Vision, Mennonite Central Committee, Compassion International, Habitat for Humanity, Care Net Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
Instead, when you are at your computer on the Internet and see an alluring image, change your mind. Click out and go help your spouse, or maybe find time for a few moments of holy passion;-)
Instead, when people all around you are living in the "God bless America"-mindset, change your mind and defend undocumented workers, dysfunctional teenagers, even misguided Muslims. Remember the shocking point of the leader of Open Doors: I.S.L.A.M. for every person who follows Jesus should stand for "I Sincerely Love All Muslims!"
Change your mind like Clarence Jordan, the N.T. Greek professor who started Koinonia Farm (Greek for communion), an interracial reconciliation community in Georgia in the 1940's.
His integrated farm was attacked by racists. Despite several bombings and other violence, eventually its influence grew and has helped change the world. For example, one very rich couple that joined the farm, Millard and Linda Fuller (millionaires), helped found Habitat for Humanity.
Instead, when you think you need to buy a new lawnmower, paint set, power saw, change your mind and buy the item with friends, sharing the equipment amongst the group. Then use the surplus money to invest in micro-businesses in impoverished countries.
Instead, when attacked, slandered, or verbally maligned, and you understandably feel resentful, change your mind. Do as Eashoa said in the Sermon on the Mount: Forgive and pray for and bless your enemies! Not easily done!
I am still very upset because I was slandered, not defended and trusted, and thus lost my career! It deeply hurts and grieves me and probably will for the rest of my life. Yet each day, I remember that I need to forgive.
C.S. Lewis tells of how it took him many years to forgive someone who mistreated him when he was a youth. And think of how difficult it is for those whose loved ones have been killed. To forgive is definitely divine, comes from God.
#6 Follow Eashoa (the real Jesus). Those two words encompass many pages of concepts and actions so that will have to be put off for another post.
In the Light of God and Eashoa,