We returned two weeks ago to America from the Middle East where we live. We had a month of traveling throughout the US and a couple of places overseas. Have you noticed the Middle East is a mess? The other day an opposition politician was killed in Tunisia. The Islamist and the Muslim Brotherhood are considering a partnership in Egypt. Refugees are pouring into Jordan from Syria. Yemen continues to be a challenge, if not an outright disaster, while Somalia shows some flickers of light after more than two decades of civil war and famine.
It could be argued, in the Middle East and North Africa, that Al Qaeda is becoming their own people group.
Would it be fair to say I am not sure where I want to go with this blog? I am endlessly, eternally optimistic. Yet to classify this time in history as “springtime” in North Africa and the Middle East because of a movement which began when a young man burned himself to death in Tunisia seems to me to be a denial of reality. I think by writing this blog I’m able to put my finger on what bothers me.
The promotion of “Arab Spring” implies this; the solution for the ills of this world is political.
That’s the rub is it not? We clamor for solutions from sources which have never proven they can provide what the world needs. It seems many statements pertaining to local or global solutions begin with, “if we just had enough money,” or “if all the countries of the world had democratic governments,” or “if we were to recognize the truth-all religions are the same, all faiths lead to God,” and the list could go on for a long time. Much of what was just written does have the potential to make life easier, more representative, or at least set a stage for various faiths to talk to one another. But are they or the “Arab Spring” representative of life-changing significance with eternal ramifications? I think not.
While fascinated with the words of the New Testament (content), I am equally fascinated by the context in which the New Testament unfolded. Here’s what we know. Jesus lived all of his life under a Roman, foreign occupation. He never witnessed a democratic government. Soon after His birth His government tried to kill Him. For most of His ministry the leaders of His religious background were in bed with the government, even to the point of partnering in His crucifixion. As far as we know He never owned a house, made car payments, put kids through college, or ever voted in an election.
All he ever did was to die on a cross and then turn the world upside down.
It is our prayer the Arab world will experience some sort of a “Spring.” God knows they need one. Yet it will not be found, ultimately, in the ballot box, some sort of representative government, by the establishment of human and civil rights, or in a market economy.
It will be found outside the doors of an empty tomb.