Hope in Our Decaying World

by Frank Jones


"We, too, live in a world of morally neutered power-brokers, who are both intoxicated and corrupted by their power. The justification by elitists of the brutality of abortion - the new fascism "back as a fad in a new intellectual garb with a new, and more helpless, victim" - and of the exploitation of children in the dark world of paedophilia is graphic evidence of the merciless savagery that has invaded our world. How are we to do ministry in this kind of world? We should live and do ministry just as the apostolic church did. Think once again for a moment of their world and the brutality they inherited in it. Kenneth E. Bailey wrestles with Herod's atrocities at the birth of Christ - 'the slaughter of the babies of Bethlehem.' Bailey's biographical sketch of Herod's atrocities demonstrates that he was both 'brilliant and brutal. ... It was a brutal world into which Jesus was born, and Herod was nothing if not a man of his times.' But why was this atrocity included in the story of the birth of Jesus? Only Matthew chose to address it; the other evangelists are silent regarding it. Bailey answers this question in a way that speaks hope to our brutal world"

How do people retain their faith under such conditions? One answer is that they remember both the Christmas story and the cross. A mindless, bloody atrocity took place at the birth of Jesus. After reading that story, the reader is not caught unawares by the human potential for terror that shows its ugly face again on the cross. At the beginning of the Gospel and at its conclusion, Matthew presents pictures of the depth of evil that Jesus came to redeem. This story heightens the reader's awareness of the willingness on the part of God to expose himself to the total vulnerability which is at the heart of the incarnation. If the Gospel can flourish in a world that produces the slaughter of the innocents and the cross, the Gospel can flourish anywhere. From this awareness the readers of the Gospels in any age can take heart.

... The gospel of Christ is triumphantly adequate for the challenge we face as it was for the first century body of Christ. (McLachlan, Douglas. Thirsting for Authenticity: Calling the Church to Robust Christianity. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018, vii-ix.)