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I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions and it’s been years since I spent hours on the first day of the year calling everyone in my address book. The truth is, the annual resetting of the calendar brings me more pain than joy. I’ve long rejected the samsara influenced myth that sees the first day of January as some sort of magical reset button. Oh, I wish we did have an opportunity to do some things over, but experience has taught me that this is absolutely impossible. Nonetheless, my annual angst is not evoked by personal regrets or guilt pangs, but stems from my habit of regularly testing the global spiritual temperature.
I’m not sure how many citizens of God’s Kingdom will disagree with my assessment that the enemy’s strategies have been very effective and the Great Controversy is about to heat up to almost unbearable proportions. Evidence of his victories are ubiquitous as throngs of nominal Christians raise the flag of surrender. Somehow they have been beguiled by Satan’s repeated successes in the myriads of battles he initiates. Unfortunately, in their submission they have forgotten that the ultimate victory goes to the One who has already won the war. The New World Order depicted in Revelation is not the fantastical prediction of fallible pollsters, but the irretractable promise of our Invincible Potentate.
While we prepare for the cataclysmic transition, it behooves every child of God to heed the warning of Ephesians 6 as each dons the only armor that can protect them from what the King James translators call the devil’s wiles (the Greek term [methodeias] is better translated “strategies”). As much as I like the protection that the armor offers, I yearn for the day when I no longer have to dress for battle; I yearn for eternity when warfare in all of its ugly manifestations will be smitten from the lexicon of life.
There are other present realities in 2012 that infuse pathos into my yearning, and for the rest of this column I will briefly discuss seven.
1. First of all, I yearn for the Kingdom because the Republicans may gain full control over all three branches of government. If any of the current (serious) contenders experience success and fulfill their pledges, the United States will be at war with Iran, the 1% will be handed a bigger slice of the economic pie, the middle and working class sick will have to fend for themselves, and the nation will be placed under a religious-right version of Sharia.
2. Secondly, I yearn for the Kingdom because the Democrats may regain a majority in the general election. Although the threat of war is lower in a Democratic environment, the majority in Congress are still beholden to corporations and real economic inequity will never be addressed. Further, the President’s cognitive sexual evolution heightens the possibility of a genderless society where the image of God is distorted in the name of civil rights. And lets not forget the left-wing shapers of the public school curriculum who take pleasure in demeaning those of us who remind them that Darwinian evolution demands as much faith as (or more faith than) biblical creation.
3. Thirdly, I yearn for the Kingdom because tornado season will be here in a few months. I’m not sure how many of you have experienced an unnatural disaster, but it is no joke. I still remember the temporary feeling of helplessness last May when hundreds of homes in my county were sucked up by the merciless monster that consumed everything in its path. Until, Jesus returns, it will happen again and again.
4. Next, I yearn for the kingdom because millions of children will have nothing substantive to eat today. While we throw away half of the food that we buy and feed our pets gourmet meals, tens of millions of Lazaruses peer into our plenty-packed pantries, pining for their hunger to be satisfied. So immune are we to this avoidable plight, that few have even considered the ethical ramifications of bio-fuels that are based on corn and other edible plants that can be easily exported for humanitarian purposes.
5. Additionally, I yearn for the kingdom to come because there are too many sick and impaired people in our world. The AIDS epidemic has assaulted the African continent with a fury more destructive than the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. While effective, antiretroviral drugs cannot substitute for the parents of the infant orphans who are forced to raise their siblings. And while AIDS and hunger ravage the two-thirds world, we in the capitalist West are eating ourselves to the grave with steroid filled genetically modified food that nurtures our obesity, cancer, and our pulmonary and cardio-vascular diseases.
6. Furthermore, I yearn for the kingdom to come because religion is too divisive. Pop artist Cee Lo Green was recently blasted by critics for changing the words of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Whereas Lennon imagined a “perfect” world where all religion is eradicated, Green imagines a global utopia where all religion is uncritically tolerated. Although driven by difference ideologies, both realize the turmoil that has been wrought on this world in the name of religion. Who knows, maybe deep down in his soul as he decried the religious establishments, John Lennon may also have been yearning for the kingdom—even if it were in ignorance!
7. Finally, I yearn for the kingdom because too many hypocrites are identifying themselves as “Christian.” I thought about this as I listened to Santorum and Bachman speak to their constituencies on the eve of the Iowa caucuses and shamelessly feigned devotion to Christ while calling for the invasion of Iran. I wish these were isolated incidents, but it is no secret that multitudes of professed people of God have chosen gold over God, country over Christ and hedonistic salaciousness over the Holy Spirit. Even among the Remnant, masses have confused cultural conformity with conversion and convey a capitalist greed that obfuscates our responsibility to our poorer brothers and sisters.
Yes, a new year is upon us, but like the faithful from the days of Adam, who have been troubled by Satan’s damaging viruses, I yearn for the kingdom. I yearn for a post-political era of totalitarian rule under a benevolent and omnipotent God. I yearn for the New Jerusalem where everyone in the universe has access to the grandest all-you-can-eat buffet for eternity—a sumptuous meal where the food energizes and does not destroy. I yearn for the Holy City where on the summit of Zion, those who sincerely sought the Father from their religious shrines in Gerizim, Jerusalem, Kilimanjaro, Mecca or the Himalayas will worship Him in spirit and truth. I yearn for the day, when the celestial Voice bellows those three glorious words, “It is done!”
Do you yearn with me? As you contemplate your response, always remember that “a tree is known by its fruit.”
Keith Augustus Burton coordinates the Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations at Oakwood University. He is also an evangelist and has shared the good news about God’s eternal kingdom in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and the Caribbean.