Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2006
|TITLE||The Gospel and Judgment
|TEXTS||Romans 8; Hebrews 6:20, 7:25, 9:24; 1 John, Matthew 22:1-3
|USE||September 23, 2006|
The two largest world religions are at odds this week. So are many of the nations meeting together this week at the United Nations in New York City.
On September 12, during a lecture in Germany at a university where he once taught theology, the 265th pope of the Catholic church quoted from a 14th century manuscript the words of Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologos.
Quote: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” (1)
The thesis of the pope’s speech was a call for dialogue of faith and reason among the cultures and religions of the world. The perception by Islamic extremists, however, was that the pope attacked their religion and their prophet Muhammad as evil and inhuman.
Reports of Muslim outrage continue to surface around the globe this week in countries where Islam has a strong hold.
The same day the pope gave his university lecture, President Bush portrayed the current war on terror as one between good and evil. During his 90 minute meeting with conservative journalists in the Oval Office, President Bush said, “I am not giving you a definitive statement. It seems like to me there’s a Third Awakening with a cultural change.” (2)
Monday, September 18, USA Today posted an article online that suggested, “the current religious conflict is enough to make one fear that the much-heralded clash of civilizations has begun.” (3)
In these scenarios we see on television or read in news articles, what is good? What is evil?
Perhaps the best news this week is in our Bible study lesson. Jesus offers His robe of righteousness to people of all nations! Radical Muslims, fanatical clerics, superpowers using war as the solution to terror, you and I have equal opportunity to stand on God’s side in the final judgment.
Long before Benedict’s speech or Bush’s Oval Office meeting, Bible writers warned that there would continue to be conflict between good and evil and that nations would rise up at other nations until the second coming of Christ. No one knows the day or hour but Scripture is clear that Good wins and evil is destroyed in the final conflict.
As our lessons in the book of Daniel have pointed out, Jesus is on trial for claims much greater and more controversial than any we’ve ever heard in the past few days. Satan is the prosecutor. Jesus is Defender and the people’s Advocate.
During tumultuous times we can cling to the promise found in Romans 8: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, not powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Verses 1, 38 & 39)--ck