A Study in Contrasts
When 17th century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes characterized urban life in the Roman Empire as nasty, poor, solitary, brutish, and short, he was inadvertently setting up an instructive contrast with life in the Kingdom of God newly established right in the midst of that empire. If by nasty he meant dirty, the apostle John wrote of a cleansing of unrighteousness by the blood of Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God. If by nasty he meant mean-spirited, the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians of kindness as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. He also wrote to the Phillipians of there being riches in glory by Christ Jesus in contrast to the surrounding poverty. Both apostles wrote of fellowship and of the church being a body of people accountable to each other, not isolated or solitary. Paul also wrote to the Corinthians that when we are weak we are strong with God's strength powerfully pitching itself over us like a tent, not depending on brute human strength. And finally Moses reminds us in Exodus that by keeping the fifth commandment of honoring and respecting our parents we are availing ourselves of the divine promise of a long life or "length of days" as the psalmist expressed it. All in all that's quite a salvation package, so it's no wonder it was such a strong draw for so many oppressed Roman citizens; the irresistible exchange of cleansing kindness for nastiness, of glorious riches for miserable poverty, of vibrant togetherness for lonely isolation, of refined, supernatural power for mere brutish force, and of a long fulfilling life in exchange for a short, tragically frustrating one. Because this bargain is such a no-brainer, multitudes of "takers" are still pressing in to receive it today!
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