Our 21st century post-modern world is characterized, among many things, by pluralism. We human beings ascribe and adhere to a vast array of belief and ethical systems.
(From time immemorial, I think, this has been true. Still, for generations and well before our cyber-techno-instantaneous-information age, we, living in more or less homogenous enclaves of human existence, away and apart from “the other,” those who believed and behaved differently, may not have known it!)
For some, this is a source of wonder; involving an opportunity to seek out and engage those with other viewpoints and, thus, to cultivate a larger understanding of the world.
For others, this global heterogeneity (which can become local when “the other” moves next door!) is a cause for concern. How can we trust that what we believe is the truth when there are so many competing, even conflicting truths?
Moreover, in our post-9/11 world, it seems to me, we have a heightened collective consciousness of the possibility of sudden, life-changing, life-ending violence and, therefore, a deepened sense of what constitutes our personal safety; whether physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual. And some, perhaps many of us, at least, on occasion, ask: How can I be sure that I am secure?
Dispersing the shadow of such wonderment, perhaps, at times, worry, Jesus’ unequivocal words are like a bright light of clarity and certainty: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does God’s will.”(1)
Or are they?
It’s tempting, I think, to interpret Jesus’ teaching about entrance into God’s kingdom as absolute and immutable. The temptation is especially pronounced because Jesus’ teaching embraces the idea of reward for the good and retribution for the wicked. In a word, fairness. And who doesn’t long for life to be fair?
But life isn’t fair. At best, hedging my bet with a bit of wishful thinking, I might say that life isn’t always fair.
So, as I closed A Right-Wing Jesus? Part 1 of 3, again, I ask: How do we, how can we interpret Jesus’ words?
(1) Matthew 7.21