What has gone wrong in our world?

Genesis shows that God created a world that was fertile and teeming with life. Water flowed from the very ground, which was fertile along river plains.

Jun 28, 2019

By Anil Netto
How did things go so wrong in our world? It wasn’t meant to be like this – right from the beginning.

Genesis shows that God created a world that was fertile and teeming with life. Water flowed from the very ground, which was fertile along river plains.

It was to to be a lovely place where people and all living creatures could be happy and free. There would be enough for everyone.

But something happened along the way: greed, suspicion, envy, violence set in.

From love and natural justice, civilisation began turning violence and injustice into the new normal.

This not the way in was supposed to be at the beginning, when the divine Logos of love and justice existed and the Spirit was already working (Genesis 1:2). 2 Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind sweeping over the waters.

That divine wind over the waters showed that God didn’t set about creating a world that was unjust and violent. On the contrary, God was pleased with his creation and thought it was all good.

But humankind rebelled against the established order of God’s will in the world, and the divine order (Logos).

It was a sad day when the first murder took place, perhaps the result of a conflict over resources between farming and herding communities, represented by Cain and Abel.

So what we have had ever since was the greed, violence and injustice of civilisation in constant conflict and opposition to the divine order of distributive justice and love that the Father had established.

It was an uphill battle for the prophets of old to speak truth to power. Some were tortured, even put to death. The Prophet Amos, the first literary prophet, living in the Eighth Century BC, spoke out strongly against the large disparities between the wealthy and the poor of his time.

Being a “chosen people’ was not a licence to do what they like. Amos actually wrote that God recognised the other communities of his time in (Amos 9:7); “Are not you and the Cushites all the same to me, children of Israel? — declares Yahweh. Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Aramaeans from Kir?”

Amos believed strongly in economic justice to uphold the established order and prevent the world from falling into ruin. Observing religiosity but failing to practise justice would earn the wrath of God (5:21-24).

21 I hate, I scorn your festivals, I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies.

22 When you bring me burnt offerings . . . your oblations, I do not accept them and I do not look at your communion sacrifices of fat cattle.

23 Spare me the din of your chanting, let me hear none of your strumming on lyres,

24 but let justice flow like water, and uprightness like a never-failing stream!

The tension between a violent unjust world and the just, compassionate kingdom envisioned by the Father, the Logos, at the beginning of time, meant that something had to give.

This was the incarnation of Jesus, the injection of divine Wisdom and Love into a cruel and oppressive world.

Now if Jesus was only preaching love as meekness and kindness, he would hardly have been seen as threatening to the established order.

But what changed the tenor of his teaching was when he took on the hypocritical rulers and elite rulers of the day for their oppression, for the heavy burdens (religious or otherwise) that they imposed on the people. Indeed, he exposed the hollowness of their worship which neglected justice.

Far from bringing the people closer to God, the worship they encouraged was burdening the people with rituals and taxes and whatnot.

This climaxed with the uproar in the Temple when Jesus struck at the heart of the system of domination and the seat of religious-political-economic collaboration. It was then that Jesus’ fate was sealed.

The love of God is not just confined to deeds of kindness or charity – much as they are sorely needed. Divine love encompasses social, economic and increasingly these days, environmental justice. Love is the soul of justice. Distributive compassionate justice is the social expression of love.

Jesus reminded his followers that the kingdom of God was already here and now – God had never intended the world to be the way it was during the time of Jesus – or in our time, for that matter.

Just as John had to diminish to let Jesus proclaim the kingdom, Jesus to had to leave and allow the Spirit to continue the work of allowing the kingdom to grow in this world.

As Paul wrote in Romans 8:20-23:

20 It was not for its own purposes that creation had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed it

21 with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God.

22 We are well aware that the whole creation, until this time, has been groaning in labour pains.

23 And not only that: we too, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our bodies to be set free.

So in these weeks after the celebration of Pentecost, we are reminded that we too have a role to play in transforming the world in line with the vision of the Father — a place rich and fertile and teeming with abundance, where love and justice and compassion can flourish in the natural order — minus the greed, the injustice and the destruction of the ecology.

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