We’re probably all familiar with the story of the Emperor who had an ego/wardrobe problem. His subjects were mostly pre-convinced of the beauty of his new, exotic raiment and therefore unwilling to admit to the scandalous truth of his bared ‘royalty.’ The oohs and aahs congratulated and flattered him until a little boy, not yet sufficiently enculturated, announced: ‘The Emperor has no clothes!’
I relate that tale because I think it is not dissimilar to the culture in which we live. Our news sources, various media outlets, plus online broadcastings, spin together a fantastic, but equally diaphanous tale of the ‘reality’ of our day. We can, like the citizens of that Emperor’s domain, be hoodwinked into believing not just laughably, but heinously distorted versions of reality.
The truth is, the Shalom of God’s Kingdom has been spreading around the globe for two millennia. In every country, there are evidences of the Spirit’s moving. Sometimes, against all odds, individuals are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, churches are growing, evangelism is being effective. Of course, there are tragic stories within the Church globally, but far exceeding those sad events, over and above the horror stories of churches and church leadership going off the rails, past the wars and rumors of wars, pockets of the Kingdom are thriving. Shalom is upending cultures, exposing evil and falsehoods, and bringing new life to hundreds and thousands.
I am currently attending the 34th annual Pastors’ Prayer Summit of New York City (and surrounding area) where about 300 pastors have gathered for prayer and fellowship. (several of us from Virginia have been invited to ‘come and see.’) These New York pastors have built relationships and partnerships and, since 1990, have seen radical change in their city. Homicides have drastically reduced and 100’s of new churches have been birthed, with city officials recognizing the work of these spiritually dedicated individuals. God’s name is lifted up. Communities are being transformed. Millions of lives are discovering hope and freedom in Jesus. Not surprisingly, this beautiful success story is not reported in the news. (The Emperor still sports his new duds.)
We, though, have Truth available to us – beautiful, life-giving truth. We are invited into the fellowship of the Trinity, sharing the Harmony, the Shalom of the atmosphere there. We are in the world, sure, but we are no longer ‘of’ it. We are privileged to be the Ambassadors for the King, with both eyes wide open to see things as they really are. It is pure joy to be Jesus’ disciples, to see the Kingdom advancing, to know the end of the story. You do know how the story ends, right? PD