Monday, November 5, 2012

Waiting is

The phrase ‘waiting is’ is about the only thing that has stayed with me all these years from my reading of the science fiction cult novel Stranger in a Strange Land, by Heinlein. It was a favorite saying of Valentine Michael Smith, the main character in that book, a human who had been raised as an orphaned child on Mars by the inhabitants of that planet. When he is returned to earth, he causes a sensation because his mindset is totally Martian in every respect, as are all of his habits. He ends up becoming a messiah figure who starts a new religion, the Church of All Worlds. I dug up these details from the internet because, as I admit, the only thing that stuck in my mind was the phrase, ‘waiting is.’

Why did the phrase stick? Well, to be blunt, I have spent most of my life waiting for something or someone. Was my intrinsic attitude somehow an unconscious result of reading the novel, or just my heredity expressing itself, the last in a long line of men who have been very, very patient with everyone?

I have had a good apprenticeship at waiting most of my life, but only in these last years has the object of my waiting shifted. Before, I waited only on human beings and their needs; now I wait primarily for Christ. He is the only one worth waiting for, because He brings not only His gifts, He brings Himself.

Books of science fiction, especially from the 1960’s and ’70’s, tend to wander into fantasy about alternative religions, as they are mirrors of the real world in which they arise, where any religion is superior to the simple truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why is that? Because mankind is a religious animal, and we are by nature shocked and offended by a God who becomes one of us precisely to put religion to death.

And so, these novels tend to promote religions, many of which resemble those we already know on earth, especially Buddhism, which seems to be a favorite. But religion is always only man’s best shot at escaping the horrible mess we find ourselves in, because we can’t accept that to escape our predicament—sin—means death to us, death to the world as we know it. So we take our best shot at whatever it is we’re searching for.

Buddhism is man’s best shot at achieving some kind of personal inner peace, if not salvation, given that there is either no God, or He is far too big and busy to deal with us.

Hinduism is man’s best shot at achieving some kind of personal safety, now and possibly in future lives, by satisfying the need for worship of the myriad hypersomatic beings, devas, that invisibly infest the human world.

Islam is man’s best shot at achieving some level of moralistic order in society for the masses, and justification for the immoral excesses of a select few, at the cost of a total denial of human freedom, while promising an otherworldly reward for the surrendered, and threatening thisworldly punishment for the unsurrendered.

Judaism is man’s best shot at achieving some kind of personal salvation, and a sense of righteousness, given that the only God has chosen the people of a certain lineage, to which they belong, to bring everyone to a knowledge of Him, while remaining outside His promises.

Christianity is man’s best shot at achieving some kind of personal salvation, with the least possible commitment to righteous living or self-sacrifice, by formal adherence to or membership in religious associations, while trampling on the call of the one they call Lord.

In the wasteland that is this world, I have waited, and been fortunate to have met a few followers of Jesus who stand firmly on the Word of God, keep their lamps lit, remain vigilant, wait on the voice of Jesus at every moment and desire to do what He commands, and are willing to suffer for the sake of His name.

I didn’t look for them.
I waited, and He sent them.

And I too can only hope to be one of them, by continuing to open my door when He knocks and to welcome Him into my house, which I want to be His.

Help me, Lord, to seek not my own, but Your will alone, and to be willing to accept everything that happens to me at Your hands, for You alone are the lover of mankind, and Your Word is truth.

I bless You, Lord, at the assemblies.
Psalm 26:12


Sasha said...

> God who becomes one of us precisely to put religion to death...

You know... I feel the idea, but can't grasp it logically, put it into words. For myself, and more - for sharing/witnessing for others when the time comes. Can you describe a bit the difference between the religion of Christianity and what Christ actually created and wanted us to be? Again, I feel it, but can't formulate my thoughts, put it into words.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Sasha, it is perhaps too simple to be put into words.

Religion is an attitude of fear of God (not awe, but real fear) coupled with an anxiety to propitiate Him, to buy Him off, so that we can have time to ourselves, so that we can think our thoughts when we're on our time. We hope He will be satisfied with the moments we give Him, but we’re never sure, and so we stress over it in various ways.

Another kind of religion is that which begins as I have described, but eventually devolves into a pious fraud, when we find out (or think that we’ve found out) that God, if He really is there, couldn’t care less about us and what we do, but we continue going through the motions for a variety of reasons, some of them still related to a kind of anxiety, only this time, fear lest we be thought irreverent by others.

Both of these kinds of religion, as I have written elsewhere, ‘end at the feet of Christ’ (

How Christ intends us to be, or rather, what He calls us into, is above all else a close, personal relationship with Himself, mediated through the events and thoughts with which He fills our lives.

Of course we don't see Him physically, but we can read His acts and His words both in His little book, the Bible, and His big book, the world around us. When we understand this, and then begin to do and say the same things we see Him doing and hear Him saying, we are ‘building on the rock’ not on sand, lives that are infused with paradise even now, both in ourselves and in those around us.

Like the apostles, we no longer think we can ‘earn’ heaven or salvation as did the righteous among the Jews. That was the basis of their religion.

Instead, learning to live in close friendship and discipleship with Jesus our Lord, Master, Savior and God, and following Him, we begin to get used to heaven, we start forming the kind of spiritual lungs to breathe the air of paradise, and the musculature to climb the mountains of God. Yes, we begin to get used to heaven by imitating it here, by living the life of heaven on earth.

This is so radically different from mere religion and so much better, that we forget all about religion even while we continue to practice it. What we do in church or about it may not look any different from what the religious do and look like, at least within the context of ‘church,’ but not only there, but everywhere we find ourselves, we radiate the gospel, the good news—

Christ risen from the dead,
Christ within us and in our midst,
among us and for us, over, under, around and through us,
Christ the tie that binds us to the Father
and in that binding soothing all our sores
and healing our every sickness.

Ours and, through our witness, everyone else’s, without exception, not limited to or divided from any human being, regardless of what they think or believe or even do.

To do as Christ commands, to ‘be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,’ this is no more religion than is Christ's raising of Lazarus, or His giving sight to the man born blind, or His forgiveness of adulterers and thieves, or His dying tortured, rejected and alone on the Cross.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

He tells us, ‘You will do even greater things than I have done, because I am going to the Father.’

These ‘greater things’ He gives us to do—for it is indeed He who gives us them, not we ourselves—cannot possibly be what we see in Christian ‘religion,’ and yet we find that precisely those who have, like Peter and the holy apostles, been given ‘the keys of the Kingdom,’ unlike them do not unlock lives, their own or those of others, but jewel themselves, or bait or threaten others. It’s obvious that they no longer even know what they hold. The good news becomes for them ‘a lesson memorised’ and no news at all.

Yes, religion dies at the feet of Christ.
But if you must be religious, just follow Jesus and do what you see Him doing.
Then you will know for sure that the veil of the Temple is ripped open,
because you will find yourself following Him
in and out of the Holy of Holies
as He mediates between
God and man.

Sasha said...

Thank you, Romanos! That's exactly what I was looking for.