[forthright] The World Is Never Happy

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2010 16:38:10 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: FINAL PHASE

The World Is Never Happy
  by J. Randal Matheny

   "To what should I compare this generation?
   They are like children sitting in the
   marketplaces who call out to one another,
   'We played the flute for you, yet you did
   not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you
   did not weep.' For John came neither
   eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has
   a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and
   drinking, and they say, 'Look at him, a
   glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax
   collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is
   vindicated by her deeds." Matthew 11:16-19
   NET

John the Baptist did right. So did Jesus. Each, as
different as they were from each other, fulfilled their
ministries flawlessly, naysayers notwithstanding.

John's austerity in dress and food underlined the
severity of his message. Away from the centers of
population, the Immersor preached a message of
repentance, of abandoning the center of human
achievement and the concentration of religious power
for the quiet but radical change of the individual
heart. He thundered forth a call to come out of the
edifices of evil.

Jesus, on the other hand, as God-inserted-into-
humanity, went to where the people were, a
co-participant in their condition, if not their sin,
where the joys and sorrows played out in families and
towns and cities. Jesus knew he was sent to man, and to
man he went, bringing the true hope-and-change message
of eternal salvation. He proclaimed reconciliation with
a God they had long discarded as too merciful and good.

Theirs was a Jonah society, and God had a messenger for
them as well.

They showed their rejection of God by how they treated
his messengers. Neither approach pleased them, because
neither John nor Jesus fit their mold, so they lodged
contradictory complaints. To those who had written
their own music, no heavenly tune sounded just right to
them.

God's wisdom, garbed in wilderness austerity or
neighborly love, could never please.

Churches and saints must know that good deeds as God
defines them are never crowd-pleasers. To bend our
efforts in order to appeal to the world is to play its
rotten game. The attempt to win sinners' allegiance by
setting aside loyalty to the Lord's authority is not a
winning strategy.

Jesus and John approached their audiences differently,
but their message of repentance for the coming Kingdom
was the same. People played up their differences merely
to discount the messengers and discard their message.

"But wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." Time will
tell. The long term showed they were both right.
Neither yielded to the pressures of critics. And both
fulfilled their timely tasks.

We should do no less.

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