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The Watering Hole - Conversations on 21st. Century religion.

Enter the tiniest of things


The birth of something teeny tiny, but overwhelming.

Enter the tiniest of things

Something very small and lacking substance was about to enter the world. It might have been missed entirely, overlooked because it had no power of its own, no weight or mass. But if someone found it, and believed in it, he had the power to change the world.

The world was in turmoil at that time. The little Jewish nation had been trampled again and again by invaders, their population taken hostage, then dragged away as slaves. The Romans invaded and dominated their land. The Romans did keep out other invaders, but they had no respect for their religion and customs. Jewish rebels organized and fought endlessly to throw off their occupiers. They pointed to prophecy. Victory would be theirs. There would be a new king.

The world had shrunk around them. Roman customs were becoming the norm in the region. Some accepted this new culture. Others rejected it, speaking with what they thought was the voice of God. But try as they might, they could not stop the world from changing. The world was on its own course, and made its own way.

There was trouble at home. They could no longer agree on their religious beliefs, not that they ever actually could. Judah and Israel had separated centuries before. There were those among them, their leaders, who said that they were punished again and again because they had not stayed true to the 613 commandments that were supposed to be practiced by faithful Jews. They must do exactly as God commanded, and not change one period or comma, no matter how difficult or what harm it caused. If they did not, they risked being dragged into exile and suffer other horrors again.

Other groups said everyone on the earth was terrible, and the end of the world would come soon in terrible destruction. Others said that a king would come and throw off their enemies and restore the kingdom to its former glory. Others preached to wash their sins away. Some disregarded the prophets. Every manner of belief had come into being. Who to believe?

No matter which way the Jews looked, hardship and violence were all they could see on the horizon. All the average person wanted to do was live in peace and support their family.

Coming into their world was this most insubstantial thing. No it wasn't a "thing in the physical sense." It might be expressed as a word, if people could find that word. It wasn't coming to the religious leaders. It wasn't coming to the government leaders. It wasn't coming to the military leaders. It wasn't coming to the rebel leaders. It wasn't coming with trumpets and thunder. Nor earthquakes and storms and mighty miracles. It wasn't even coming with a sword and shield. Not even accompanied by a sickness or pestilence.

This insubstantial, possibly ephemeral, really abstract thing, was not a natural thing. It was the opposite of how most people thought.

It was heralded by a thought: "Peace on earth, goodwill to people." Peace on earth? Who could think such a thing. Peace might be in your own mind as you cast a net into the sea for fish at night, or while you stared at the stars while shepherding sheep at night. But there was no such thing as peace in the real world of people. It was unheard of. Not the way of the world. It was... goofy.

But some people did believe in this notion. And the tiny thought was a word that came to be embodied in the flesh of a tiny baby. And the baby grew into a man. And he looked at what the religious leaders were doing, and the horrible burdens they placed on the people. He had pity on the people. He called the religious leaders hypocrites, and said that his burden was light. Those laws, those 613 burdens, they weren't for God. Anyone with a brain who had read the prophets, knew that God had no need of Temples and ceremonies, and all of this hubbub, and all the things the leaders thought necessary. If the laws had a use, they were for the people, he told them. He broke the laws in front of everyone whenever it was necessary.

He saw how guilt, and not being forgiven, dragged down the people as a horrible burden. Guilt was as destructive as a disease eating them from within. It destroyed people. It destroyed relationships. He said to them to them, forgive each other. Make it a habit: do it seventy times seven. Guilt was another burden they had no need of.

That thing that lacked substance, well people found it and believed in it. It became a living human being. It showed them a new way of living. And that being, that new way of living, gathered meaning and took shape as a word that lived among them. That word was love. It came to mean, stop finding reasons to fight each other, and instead find reasons to help each other and seek the best for each other. It meant, instead of holding grudges that festered and made for bad relationships, to forgive each other. It meant instead of looking for thousands of laws to make people do things, ask them to do things out of love for each other. Instead of trying to make kingdoms to force things on people, instead, let them find love in their own hearts. Instead of hating others, find ways to help them.

God poured his spirit into all people, so that all would find love in their hearts. God is love. Those who find God in their hearts because they follow Christ, are called Christians.

Christians celebrate the triumph of that idea, that overcame the hate, confusion, and endless law, as the birth of Jesus the Christ. The date is uncertain, and unimportant in the overall scheme of things, but it seems good to celebrate it in late December when the world looks toward spring and the renewal of life with great hope. It's a holiday for all people with God in their hearts. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love.

The world has the same problems today as then. Wars and conflicts continue to pop up. People still disagree about religious beliefs. Many people hate government and want to overthrow it, or want government to rule according to their wishes with ever expanding laws and force. Law is used as a substitute for love, but it doesn't work. Guilt and hate dominate relationships among many. Think peace on earth, good will toward all. We will become better people, and make the world a better place.

- Dorian

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- Dorian

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