Tuesday, Dec 14, 2021. We live in a world which is a mixture of unbelievable riches and much sorrow. When you look around, you find fantastic nature, mountains, lakes, oceans. You see fascinating creatures, animals and humans. You find creativity, art, music. Humans have developed insight into nature by science and technology. What a fantastic world!
At the same time, we find much grief and sorrow. We face illness and death. We face fraud, lies, wars, hunger, suppression. Humans do not treat each other nicely, the struggle for dominance, efforts to push some particular ideology, fame, money, superiority … there are structural problems and there are problems linked to human nature, to our free will and decisions.
What can be done? …
Human societies try to solve the problems by rules, laws, police and administration. We organize ourselves, and formulate commandments to what we think will lead to good behaviour. Throughout all of human history, the balance between human desire and rules how to behave to protect each and every one has been part of conflicts and struggle.
What is the role of Jewish and Christian faith in all of this? The old Jewish texts talk about God, the creator. He has made the world - and according to the creation stories it is made as a counterpart for him, mankind has been created to live in community with the creator.
This seems to be an odd story, seen from the perspective of a modern man or woman who cannot discover God in our world as it is today. Some of us only see mankind with their culture and many traditions. However, there are many others, who live with some kind of faith, in the middle of the same world. There are people who pray in various temples in Asia. There are Jews, Christians and Muslims. There are people who interact with the spiritual world in many ways.
What is reality? Is faith just a state of the mind of some humans? Or is there a God? Which God? What spirits do exist? There are real questions to ask.
Invitation to Discover …
When we look into the New Testament of the Bible, we hear about Christ Jesus, who is said to be a prophet, but more than that. He claims to be linked to God, he is even said to be the son of God. But let us not stumble over these terms today, let us listen to how Jesus teaches to pray to God. He takes God serious, for him God is reality, and you can talk to him. It is written:
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11, 2-4)
God is addressed as father. He is addressed as a holy being, something special. The prayer here talks about holding his name holy as well. And it expresses the wish that God's “kingdom” comes, i.e. the world where he reigns, where his character and will is fully guiding what happens. It is a world where daily bread comes, where the supply we need for our life is given. It is a world where foregiveness reigns. It is still a free world, but temptation is modest or gone.
The invitation of the New Testament is to discover God through Jesus. It is an invitation even to discover God “in” Jesus. Somehow the question to who God is and where God is will be answered, when you meet Jesus and realize who he is. So the importance of this person Jesus is in his role, his character, his life and actions and fate. We should talk about this in more detail … (Roland Potthast)