The maxims of the world are often built around the ways of the Darwinian jungle: ‘You have to fight your way to the top.’ ‘You will be somebody only if you are rich or clever or successful. You have to be aggressive in order to win.’
The successful hunters in the Darwinian jungle would not waste effort or opportunity by giving an inch to anyone—one cannot win that way. One must be tough and relentless, maximising takings and staying on top, or the other guy will overtake you and destroy you.
Humility? Brokenness? Mercy? Holiness? Suffering? Peacefulness? Giving way to others? All these things would be foreign and otherworldly to those who thrive in the jungle, even those who struggle in it and try to make ends meet. The message of Jesus may sound like sentimental idealism that does not actually work in the real dog-eat-dog world.
The grasping Old Testament character Jacob probably felt the same way.
He lived his life grabbing as much as he could, cheating people in the process, outsmarting others, and using his wits against others to maximise his gains. He did not want to be a loser—and there were others (like his sly father-in-law) who were trying to take advantage of him. He believed that he had to be sharp and awake, and remain hard and smart in this difficult world in order to survive.
Then, God met him one momentous night and they had a mysterious struggle which ended with Jacob getting a displaced hip and a permanent limp (Genesis 32:22-32).
The man who ran away from his angry brother after cheating him, and learnt to use his strength and his wit to survive, now had to limp back to his brother, trusting God that there was a better way to live. He had to realise that there is merit in what is considered to be a weakness or disadvantage. We must remember what the Lord told the apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The way to true happiness and blessedness is to follow Jesus.
We are truly blessed when we walk with Jesus on His way. All other ways are bound to bring ultimate disappointment, unhappiness and failure. To pursue wealth, power, earthly intelligence and happiness without reference to God is folly. It will lead to woe rather than blessing.
John Stott shares that for him the key verse in the Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 6:8—“Do not be like them” echoing what God told the ancient Israelites: “You must not do as they do” (Leviticus 18:3). Thus, the Sermon is the most complete delineation anywhere in the New Testament of the Christian counter-culture.
Here is a value system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, life-style and network of relationships—all of which are totally at variance with those of the non-Christian world. The disciples of Jesus Christ and His church are called to be counter-cultural rather than to be conformed to the world.
Jesus must have looked at the suffering and marginalised people around Him as they listened to Him. They were poor, broken, made fun of, rejected and powerless.
Then there were those who were very successful in life. They had many resources, they were doing well in life, and everything seemed to be going their way. The question arose as to who were the happy people in this world.
Jesus showed that those who had temporary success in the Darwinian world had success that was fleeting and brittle. Their outward plentiness hid their inward aridity. They were spiritual skeletons living in whitewashed sepulchres. The carnival spirit outside hid the death that had taken place inside. The Darwin world is driven by the self centred need to survive in a hostile world. It is in reality filled with misery, even among those at the top.
On the contrary, those who seem to be the losers in a Darwinian world, those who seem to be weak, those who are disadvantaged, those who pursue God at all costs—these are the people who are truly blessed. They may not feel happy like those who pursue the amusing ways of the world.
But who says it has to do with feelings? These people are blessed because God says so. They are the truly blessed in the all-knowing and all-seeing eyes of God. They are blessed because they are the ones who will see God and receive the kingdom of God. They are the ones who, in the end, will inherit the earth. They will have the dignity of being called the sons and daughters of God. The tables will be turned for them at the end.
Those who are clothed with the glories of the world and who have won the trophies of this world will be stripped of these. Those who appeared empty-handed in the rat race will receive true glory. What happens at the end will show the illusory nature of the Darwinian jungle.
The illusion will be gone one day, and the old world will pass away.
Jesus opens the door to another world, a much more realistic world—the kingdom of God. The character of the kingdom is very different from the character of the Darwinian jungle. It is indeed the character of the One who came not to be served but to serve. It is the character of Jesus who gave His life for others, who had time and compassion for the least, the last and the lost. The reality of this kingdom can only be appropriated in relation to this Jesus. Otherwise, the character of the kingdom would only remain as theoretical or moral decoration, but not actual experience.
It is possible to reflect this character of the kingdom when we turn to Jesus, and let Him rule us and live in and through us.
Make a list of differences between the kingdom of God and the Darwinian jungle. How much of each do you carry in your worldview and perspective? In which of these does the kingdom of God give you hope?
Excerpted and adapted from The Sermon of Jesus by Robert Solomon. © 2013 by Robert Solomon. Used by permission of Armour Publishing. All rights reserved.
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