Perhaps you’ll forgive my reticence to care very much about all of this End of Days talk (what the theologians call “eschatology”) as it seems that, like body piercing and regional barbecue, opinions on the matter are very personal and can be really intense.
I kind of enjoy Ball’s critique of the Bible. He has the same perspective Augustine had when he first tried to read it. When he finally did, Augustine went on to be one of the greatest of the Church Fathers whose writings and works still influence western thought in and outside Christian circles.
There are some people we meet who seem to express love in the same way the sun expresses heat. In fact, every religion ever invented that's based in love is an attempt to spread that expression of love to all people.
The following is an excerpt from Martin Luther’s Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (1535), translated by Haraldo Camacho (1517 Publishing, 2018). Against these empty bubbles and cherished illusions (as I have noted), we teach faith and we give the true measure of faith. First, man should learn from the law to know himself.
“Let’s put it to a vote!” the emperor declared. Just 200 years earlier, not a single Christian would have imagined a Roman official uttering such a phrase.
One of my favorite movies is Christopher Nolan’s Inception. It’s nearly impossible to synopsize, but the premise is that main character Dom Cobb has the ability to enter people’s dreams, and this ability enables him to engage in a high-stakes, intellectual heist.
These passages are not the simple commands of some rabbi or wise teacher instructing us to distinguish ourselves from sparrows and ravens. This is the very Word of God - present since the beginning of time - reminding us that our comfort is to be found in Him - in His actions, His love, and His grace.
The distance—the gap—between the life of our dreams and the real deal is humorous. At least on paper. In a book. But at ground level, it can be utterly unfunny, unnerving, and even crushing. This truth can lead to a warning: Mind the gap.
I love Robert Capon’s reference to Luke 14 as containing the Party Parables of Jesus. Luke reports Jesus at a dinner engagement instructing His Pharisee host and guests about the kind of party etiquette that reflects feasting in the Kingdom of God.