MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Posts Tagged ‘Peace

Contentment

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Photo: Nicole Raisin Stern/Flickr

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.

~ Psalm 37:25

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Written by MattAndJojang

April 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Competing Visions of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth Are Not Mutually Exclusive

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Photo: Ibrahim Iujazen/Flickr

In his Time magazine article, “Heaven Can’t Wait,” Jon Meacham contrasts two seemingly competing visions of heaven in contemporary Christianity. One prominent view envisions heaven as the ethereal place one goes when one dies. Images of winged angels, celestial music, golden thrones, pearly gates, and streets of gold variously occupy this vision of the hereafter. Heaven is conceived of as a future paradise of eternal rest filled with peace, light, and love. Everlasting life is seen as an eternal abode in the heavenly realm with God and the angels.

A second well-known view envisions heaven as how you live your life. This standpoint appeals to a younger generation motivated by causes and inspired by heaven to make a positive difference in the world. Guided by this outlook, these young evangelical Christians see themselves as agents of heaven on earth engaged in social justice and peacemaking. For this activist generation, heaven demands stewardship on earth in daily living.

According to New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, heaven is not a future destination but rather God’s dimension in our ordinary life on the earth. For Wright, the hope of a new heaven and a new earth along with the New Jerusalem coming from God in the Book of Revelation should invite work in the world for justice. Wright emphasizes the biblical hope of the bodily resurrection and new creation in the New Testament.

Meacham asserts that early Christians did not understand heaven in the same way as those who now envision a heavenly paradise after death but rather envisioned heaven as a two-step process. First, the soul left the body to a place of rest and peace. Second, a bodily resurrection into a new heaven and a new earth would bring God’s kingdom to earth. Meacham concludes that Christians have largely departed from these concrete beliefs about heaven by Jesus and his contemporaries. For Meacham, Wright and others are bringing this emphasis on the bodily resurrection and the New Jerusalem back to contemporary Christianity. The implication is an active Christianity bringing the Kingdom to earth.

Yet, these two competing visions of heaven and the hereafter need not be mutually exclusive. A vision of heavenly bliss and celestial paradise after death is a compelling way to describe what early Christians saw as the first — temporary — stage of heaven. Immediately after death one returns to God and enters paradise. Notwithstanding, the entire biblical account points to hope in a bodily resurrection and a new eternal life with God in the New Jerusalem. Life with God on earth will be exalted. According to the New Testament, heaven is not the final destination but rather a temporary holding place before the end of the world. One can easily hold these two visions of heaven in tension in one’s faith.

Meacham implies, however, that one cannot believe in heaven as the eternal place of rest and vindication and also work for social justice as an imperative. Thus, according to some, the image of heaven as a future paradise pacifies Christians, most especially the poor and marginalized.

Critics of African American slave religion, for instance, argue that it was otherworldly, escapist, and compensatory. The black spirituals demonstrate the rich imagery of heaven and the hereafter in slave religion as release and vindication in another life. These images of heaven no doubt enabled black slaves to endure hardship and dehumanization. Yet, black slaves also believed in imminent liberation on earth as in the biblical Exodus. They hoped for concrete material and spiritual liberation from bondage in the now.

Rebellious black slave insurrectionist Nat Turner, for example, asserted that blacks should fight for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth through revolt. African American Christian slaves held in balance the hope of paradise in another life and the equally significant hope of heaven on earth. They were able to resist slavery in myriad ways by believing in the God of both the hereafter and the present. Thus, black slave religion was both otherworldly and this-worldly. Slaves embraced the hope of a heavenly paradise after death that would vindicate them and erase the pain of the present life. Yet, they also hoped in imminent liberation on earth and the belief that God would initiate a new era of peace and freedom for blacks here in America.

~Karl Lampley

Written by MattAndJojang

April 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

My One Desire

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Illustration: Thomas Merton

I have only one desire, and that is the desire for solitude—to disappear into God, to be submerged in His peace, to be lost in the secret of His Face.

~ Thomas Merton

Written by MattAndJojang

January 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Change

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Photo: Daylily18/Flickr

Change. Had more than your share?  Wishing you could freeze-frame the video of your world?  Would it help to stand in Saint Peter’s Square and tell the fellow on the balcony, “Stop! No more change!”?

Save your breath. He can’t help. If you’re looking for a place with no change, try a soda machine. With life comes change.

With change comes fear, insecurity, sorrow, stress. So what do you do? Hibernate? Take no risks for fear of failing? Give no love for fear of losing? Some opt to. They hold back.

A better idea is to look up. Set your bearings on the one and only North Star in the universe – God.  For though life changes, he never does.

~ Max Lucado from the book It’s Not About Me

Written by MattAndJojang

May 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Best Road Trip

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Photo: Bodie Bailey/Flickr

Tyler Kellogg calls himself a chronic do-gooder, and what he did last summer is proof. After scraping together $2,000 and retrofitting his car with a sleeping space, the 21-year old college student hit the road. His goal: to bestow random acts of kindness on 100 strangers.

He drove 1,600 miles, from his parents’ house in Adams Center, New York, to the Florida Keys, then back again.

“The first person I helped was a guy installing a boat lift on a lake in Oneida, New York,” Kellogg recalls.

“I was shaking when I asked if he needed a hand.”

What if he thought Kellogg was crazy?

“When he said, ‘Can you help me get this lift into the water?’ I knew everything was going to be fine.”

He helped a cop fix a downed barricade in Washington, D.C., and spread countless cubic yards of mulch in Maryland and North Carolina. And somewhere outside Atlanta, he met a man who was crying because his wife had recently died and he had no one to talk to.

“For three hours we sat on his porch,” Kellogg says.

“When I left, he said, ‘Thank you. I realize now that my life will go on.’”

In 55 days, Kellogg assisted 115 strangers and made an exhilarating realization:

“You don’t have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist,” he says.

“You just have to ask people, ‘How can I help?’”

~ from the Reader’s Digest June/July 2010 issue

Written by MattAndJojang

May 9, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Out of the Box

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“For which of these are you trying to stone me?”

~ John 10: 3

Do you ever feel like you have to live with other people’s expectations? I do and it can really be stressful.  I remember after coming from mass the woman beside me whispered to me,

“You know these people are wrong (pointing to those praying in the Blessed Sacrament) I saw some of them. They don’t know how to make the sign of the cross…” and then she gives me this whole lecture as to how it should be done with matching actions.  I kept quiet the whole time she was talking. Just nodding my head, to be polite. But in my mind, I felt that she was wrong, and not those people she was referring to. Why judge? God sees the heart…

Jesus experienced the same judgmental attitude. He was performing good works – healing the sick, casting out demons, teaching people to forgive, etc. But people were not grateful for what He did. Instead, they stoned Him for these good deeds. Because they said, he was making himself God, and yet He was just man.

It’s easy to see the mistakes of others. But how hard to see that we are human enough to commit mistakes as well.

When we are not ruled by our expectations of others, we become more accepting of other’s weaknesses. And perhaps, life will be better because we live our lives out of the box.

~ Jojang

Written by MattAndJojang

March 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm

A Promise

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Photo: Forti Suarez

 

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;

yea, wait for the Lord!

Psalm 27: 13-14 (RSV)

Written by MattAndJojang

December 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm