„The Long Silence”

At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne.

Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them. But some groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame, but with belligerence.

‘Can God judge us? How can he know about suffering?’ snapped a pert young brunette. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. ‘We endured terror … beatings … torture … death!’

In another group a Negro boy lowered his collar. ‘What about this?’ he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. ‘Lynched … for no crime but being black!’

In another crowd, a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. ‘Why should I suffer’ she murmured, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’

Far out across the plain there were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred. What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in this world? For God leads a pretty sheltered life, they said.

So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he, had suffered the most. A Jew, a Negro, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child. In the centre of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.

Before God could be qualified to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth – as a man!

‘Let him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it.Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured.

At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.’

As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.

And when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No-one uttered another word. No-one moved. For suddenly all knew that God had already served his sentence.

John R. W. Stott, The cross of Christ, pp. 336-337

Crestinismul in fata provocarii mileniului 3

christian_percentage_by_country

Mileniul 3 pune in fata crestinatatii cateva provocari majore. In primul rand, declinul afilierii religioase, foarte vizibil mai ales in Europa Occidentala: tari traditional catolice precum Spania, Franta, etc – numai catolice nu mai sunt…
Insa o a doua provocare mi se pare si mai serioasa: Asia. Desi crestinismul practic aici s-a nascut, Asia este continentul cel mai ostil si mai putin penetrat de catre crestinism. Avand azi doua natiuni mamut – China si India – Asia ni se prezinta ca jumatatea necrestinata a omenirii. In ciuda tentativelor misionare incununate de succese punctuale ( Coreea de Sud, spre exemplu), Asia ramane o provocare formidabila pentru urmasii lui Cristos. Mandrindu-se cu culturi antice si prestigioase, Asia sfideaza de 2000 de ani crestinatatea. China, India si Islamul (ca sa ma limitez doar la „mamuti”) insumeaza „treimea” pagana care nu se da nicicum batuta in fata urmasilor Rastignitului. Daca Islamul ramane o „verde” provocare monoteista fundamentalista, India majoritara scapa printre degete crestinilor, iar China rosie, in ciuda „subteranei” crestine, ramane inca o provocare serioasa.
Cat despre eforturi misionare, nu e chiar inexplicabil insuccesul misiunilor crestine. Adesea deloc gratuit,acestea au fost vazute ca instrumente de colonizare si exploatare si au ramas in mentalul asiatic drept religiile Vestului (salbatic), oricat de civilizat „se da” el. Divizarea lumii crestine si rivalitatea diverselor fractiuni crestine este poate niciunde mai vizibila decat in Coreea sudica. Nu e de mirare ca mandra Japonie a samurailor nu se simte deloc magulita de Biserica. India, desi cu o straveche istorie a misiunii crestine a apostolului Toma, isi pastreaza vraja si impenetrabilitatea in fata Crucii. China, mult ravnita de iezuiti, ramane un imens teritoriu in care Cristos are inca mult de colindat si cucerit inimi.
Ce strategie are Crestinatatea pentru Asia? Pare-se ca doar planuri prost articulate, si si mai prost puse in practica. Departe de mine de a minimaliza eforturilor atator misionari a caror jertfire de sine este uluitoare. Ce ma amaraste insa este lipsa de vlaga, de coordonare, de planuri pe termen lung viabile. Cu siguranta ca Dumnezeu Duhul trebuie sa fie Strategul a-toate-diriguitor. Insa lipsa unei strategii vizibile si actiuni viguroase si consecvente nu pare sa aiba alta „traducere” decat criza de oameni pe care Dumnezeu sa-i calauzeasca si imputerniceasca sa cucereasca odata Asia. Lui Dumnezeu caruia ii pasa de Ninive cu siguranta ca ii pasa cu atat mai mult de miliardele Chinei, Indiei si Semilunii.

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