Thursday, December 31, 2015

Religious tolerance and Persian platitudes

Modern America says, "Sure, Christians can worship Jesus. Only do it in your church buildings. Keep Jesus out of the marketplace. Please, just treat Jesus like your pet dog. He can be cute and comforting; just leave him at home. You might think He's the greatest thing in the universe; to us, he just craps on our lawn and makes us feel uncomfortable."

In the Old Testament book of Ezra, we read of the end of Israel's exileIt came about when Cyrus, the Persian King, allowed the Jews to return. His declaration is recorded this way: 

Ezra 1:2-4New International Version (NIV)

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
The great and powerful king appears to be so respectful and tolerant of the religion of the Jews. It makes me think of a recent elementary holiday sing-a-long where the public school teacher worked so hard to honor the faith traditions of Jews, Christians, and Santa-loving pagans. Then again, religion is always "ok," as long as the religious people realize their provincial deities are subject to the controlling powers. 
But what if Jesus is the roaring Lion of Heavenly Zion? What if He is an untamed beast who only seems to be absent and quiet? What if He's lurking in the high grass of the African bush, waiting patiently for the proper time of revelation? 

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