Monday, March 12, 2012

much more

Many things are like the moon, I'm finding.
     Symphonies. History. Styles. My mind. They go through the same phases repeatedly. Exposition, Development, Recapitulation. Classicism, Romanticism, Neoclassicism, Anti-Romantic Rationalism, Anti-Rational Intellectual Muddiness, Anti-anti-Romantic New Ageyness...  Platonic communism, Greek democracy, Roman imperialism, medieval feudalism, medieval monarchy, revolution and democracy, Imperialism, Marxism, Anti-Communist Fascism, Anti-Fascist Democracy, Capitalist Pragmatism, Socialism... Skinny jeans: cool today, uncool tomorrow and yesterday, cool at various times on the far sides of both of those. There's nothing new under the sun. We just take turns reflecting it differently, long enough that most of us forget we've been here before, and we'll likely be here again. Truth doesn't change, and the lies don't always either.
     There's nothing new under the sun. But there is a lot we haven't noticed yet.
     I skipped one: How is my mind like the moon? Beyond the broader, multi-year stages of recurring themes and renewedly learned lessons, I fluctuate in shorter periods of time between a general feeling of exultant exuberance and defeated (sometimes defeatist) depressedness of spirits and mind.
     We're behind enemy lines. It seems to me like the forces of evil have got the upper hand in most of the culture. I won't list off the world's woes (first because I think I've exhausted my quota of lists for this post, and second because it's depressing) but if you haven't noticed, things are pretty bad. Why fight? Defeat is inevitable. Or maybe not defeat, but is hoping for lasting change for the better reasonable? "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one."

     There's this phrase I've noticed in the New Testament. It's "much more". Here:
        "If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." Romans 5:10
        "If , because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17
        "If [Israel's] trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! ...For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" Romans 11:12, 15
        "If what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory." 2 Corinthians 3:11
        "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to you children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:13

     Because the culture, and the media, and those with political power are so patently under the influence of rebellion to God, denial of basic truths, and allegiance to self, Good seems like a hard sell. It seems impotent. Weak like a honeysuckle's scent in a slum. Destined for rejection, and failure.
    These verses, though. They're hammering in an opposite notion. In each case, the effects of two things are being compared. The first is something bad, the second something good. And in each case, the effect of the good is "much more" than that of the bad. This really struck me with the one about Israel in Romans 11. Paul is talking about how the nation of Israel rejected her Messiah and so God turned to offer salvation to the whole world. Sometime, though, Paul says, she may return to God. And when Israel returns, even greater things than before will happen. This is not intuitive to me. My instinct would be that if something bad happening to Israel meant something good happening to the rest of the world, then if that bad thing were reversed and something good happened to Israel, the effects also would be reversed. But no! If something bad means something good, something good means something better. Good is more potent than evil. Its effects are better, stronger, and more lasting--even if it's small like a mustard seed.
     We are the mustard seed. Jesus will grow us, and the weeds of Hell will not prevail against us. "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one"... and "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."  "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." It can be done. It will be done. There is ultimately no question of failure. And when, finally and conclusively, evil is overcome by good, will I have done my part?

* If you're not a Lord of the Rings person and you're wondering about the picture at the top, find a copy of The Two Towers and read the chapter called "The King of the Golden Hall". 
Scratch that--if you're not a Lord of the Rings person, become one.