Reader Writes - April 2019
Rebellion is in the air; “thank goodness” many would add. How bad do things have to get before we collectively change them? And which things do you have in mind you might ask! Well, in the vortex of a Brexit cyclone at the time of writing, it is impossible to know where we shall end up. But towards the end of March I shall be marching in support of some of the less alarming Brexit options. One of the more hopeful signs of rebellion has been seen in Parliament and even within the Cabinet; MPs are defying their whips or leaving their parties to stand up for what they and majorities of their constituents want. And there is more rebellion.
Far more serious than even Brexit are the dire predictions for climate breakdown which will be visited upon the generations alive well before the end of the century. It was heartening to see school pupils walking out of classes to plead that Government would take carbon emissions and climate breakdown seriously. Extinction Rebellion, a very new group, is catching people’s imagination; if respected and sober academic reports make no practical impact on society and on its government, then we owe it to future generations to do something more attention grabbing. But rebels and mavericks are often distrusted and dismissed. See Kington Chat! The majority of us shelter in the protection of consensus. Dissent disturbs that comfort, so no wonder it’s unpopular.
You don’t have to look far in scripture to find rebellion. God endlessly sent prophets to rebel, at great personal danger, against kings who were usurping God’s rule; those prophets found themselves alone against King, temple, and sometimes the people who liked their lives the way they were, and preferably without guilt. Then Jesus came and upturned the sacred establishment. When he kicked over the tables of the money changers, he was striking a blow to religious corruption. When he called the Pharisees and teachers of the law hypocrites, he was exposing their whole self-serving establishment. When he expelled demons, he was calling time on Satan’s hold on this world.
The tragic irony is that those charged with stewardship of the temple and exposition of God’s prophetic word failed to see the very event to which both temple and scripture pointed. The rebel Jesus, unsettling the establishment and exposing hypocrisy, was the promised and longed-for Messiah himself. Privilege, vested-interest, stability and familiarity are all fiercely defended. No wonder climate action like Extinction Rebellion and changes to the political landscape under the plough of the Referendum rouse heated passions.
As we head towards Easter and the cross, let’s be certain in our minds that this Jesus, the promised Messiah and saviour of mankind, came to turn the spiritual world upside down. God’s empire was breaking in. Satan had been decisively defeated. His tenure in a broken world was on notice. Jesus, the unsettler of the comfortable, was handed over to be crucified with a convicted felon on either side. One thief rebelled against his past and repented; “You will be with me in paradise”, Jesus promised him. When Jesus rose on the third day, he did away with sin by the sacrifice of himself, once for all. He rebelled and prevailed against the spiritual darkness. Each of us, like the thief, is called to rebel against the darkness and take up eternal life.