Sunday, August 4, 2013

The price of love

     Scarcely 30 years after Jesus' crucifixion, Emperor Nero gave the order for Jerusalem to be overrun.  Most residents, men, women and children, were put to the sword immediately.  All those buildings and belongings which could be burned, were burned.  All those structures of brick, stone, and mortar, were razed, til there was not remaining one stone upon another.  the few survivors were scattered and sold as slaves in distant parts of the empire.  Just for good measure, the ground was then copiously salted.

     Jesus offered hope, he offered ultimate love, joy salvation, redemption.  But he did not offer an end to suffering or injustice, not at all.  Others following in his footsteps made such rash promises but He never did.

     From the earliest that I can remember in my life, I have been teased, ridiculed, criticized, badgered, abused, beaten, and belittled.  From the earliest that I can remember, I had faith that I could be happy, and not only that I could but that it was my right to be happy, to love and to be loved.  For a long long time I found events to be highly confusing, because it was precisely at those times when I felt the most joy that other people were most apt to put me down and try to hurt me.

     I went back and forth between trying to live as others told me I ought to live, and trying to live as I wanted.  Neither one offered any satisfaction, but only pain.  Til finally, I began to really feel God's love for me, to notice all the things, big and small, that He has done just for me.  He showed me how wonderful it is to do for other people.  Not so much giving material goods for those really have little value, but what people cherish the most is the giving to them of control, to empower them.

     That has not ended the persecution.  These days, in fact, the threats grow greater and greater, as totalitarian regimes, police states, central control, spread across the earth.  I sense more and more danger.
There is more and more jealousy emanating from desperate greedy folk who are terminally dissatisfied with what they have and always require more.  There will always be people who have convinced themselves that duty and obligation prevent them from loving, from being happy. Not enjoying it themselves, they don't like happy people spreading joy.  They don't like it at all.  The religious and secular leaders, as ever in cahoots, insist that joy is impossible, always out of reach in this life, and one must buckle under to a heavy yoke to have any chance of salvation in the "next" world.

     There will never be an end to pain.  There will never be an end to persecution.  That was never the point.  The point is, they have already been defeated.  Their own doom is just as sure as the fall of the Roman Empire (and of course, every other empire which has been built, before and after.).  Nothing that they build or write will endure, and everything they do is vanity, meaningless.  Only love endures .....

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