1393) Earth: A Prison or a Home?

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Two readings by Alvin Rogness:

     When, during the French revolution, the prison doors of the Bastille were battered down, the prisoners were free to leave.  Many, long imprisoned and accustomed to the routine of their cells, were afraid to leave.
     This is the plight of humanity.  In the imagery of the Bible people had been imprisoned by the Enemy, brainwashed to love darkness more than light, and had become accustomed to a life in the shadows.  In the vagaries of the prison, they pursue money that could buy everything but happiness, and power that could control everything but their own desires and appetites.  Differences between good and evil, right and wrong, were lost in the dimness of the prison.
     The great good news of the Gospel is that Jesus came to overcome the Enemy, to shatter the doors of the prison, and to fling wide open the doors of the Father’s house— and open the way to freedom.  Huddled in their cells, people often refuse to believe that the doors are really open.  Or believing, they lack the courage to part with the strange security of the prison, to accept freedom, and to embark on a life of responsibility and accountability.
     The warden of this spiritual prison is a cunning foe.  His public relations officers do an admirable job of deluding the prisoners that they are free– free to indulge their appetites, free to pursue their selfish ends, free to crush their rivals, free to amass phony wealth, and free to swagger in the pride of power.  There is but one absolute restriction:  they are not to see the light.  In the light, they would discover that freedom is freedom to turn from the anarchy of their selfish ways to embrace the ways of God, to accept responsibility for the care of the earth, and for one another.  This is a gigantic and terrifying turn-about.
     On the cross our Lord engaged the Enemy in a last-ditch stand and overcame him.  The great deceiver, the devil, the prince of liars, the cruel warden, is stripped of his power, and his prison has lost its doors.  We are free to leave.
     Nor does our Lord leave the matter there.  Through the quiet work of his Spirit, he lures people in to the light and goes on to groom and guide them into new lives of real freedom.  —The Word for Every Day

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     Our universe is like a big house.  We enter by birth, without having chosen to enter.  We live our short years within the walls of time and space.  The great questions– where did we come from? why are we here? and upon leaving where do we go?– all beg for an answer.  The answers are not easy to come by.
     The Bible tells us that this is a good house, owned and managed by an infinitely good Landlord.  Those who inhabit the house are far from perfect.  In blind self-concern, they break out into brawls and disorder.  Wars, revolutions and famine torment them.  At times the whole of life seems no better than a madhouse.  But because the Owner and Manager is good, the house itself is a good house.
     God has disclosed his goodness not only in providing the house.  He has done, and continues to do, vastly more.  He does not leave his tenants to their brawling.  He has entered the affairs of his people.  Long ago he came visibly in person, in Jesus Christ.  He did not leave the people to wonder whether he was good.  He came to die for them, because he loved them so.  In his death and resurrection God made it possible for us to be forgiven our sins and to be organized again into a family that centered their lives in him.
     If by faith we are able to grasp the full impact of this wonderful self-disclosure of God, and if we are able to rest back into his love, then the very walls of the house take on a warmth and a glow that otherwise would escape us.  For we live in the certainty of faith that God sent his Son into the world that it might be saved through him.  –Touch of His Love.

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Genesis 1:31  —  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  And there was evening, and there was morning— the sixth day.

Romans 7:21-23  —  I find this law at work:  Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

John 8:12  —  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

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Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,

Lead Thou me on;

The night is dark and I am far from home,

Lead Thou me on;

Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step’s enough for me.

–Cardinal John Henry Newman  (1801-1890)

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