Globalization And The AntithesisA study in Luke 13:18-30
Our Lord illustrates the Kingdom of God with a comparison to the inevitable growth of the farmer’s seed and the anticipated expansion of the baker’s loaf. Both are familiar examples to His listeners, ancient and modern. These verses provide us with a major element of a sound, biblical world view.
We are taught that God is sovereign over history and salvation, that He orders and orchestrates every thing and event that comes to pass, and that we are not to despise the day of small beginnings. Growth and development of His Kingdom will happen by means that are pleasing to Him but are usually imperceptible to the flesh and the limited capacities of man. This idea is out of phase with the commonly held, failure-oriented view of many Christians who predict that few will be saved, the ultimate ineffectiveness of the gospel, the defeat of the Church, rapture of believers and the massive end-time escalation of evil.
Globalization, Impetus for Progress and Maturing
The process by which our Lord brings His plan to fruition in the world is sometimes referred to as The Antithesis. God, Himself, engineered the force of progress and maturing that would attain and maintain His desired goals. His methods often surprise us. God’s law sets forth the constraints and the liberties with which growth can take place. Those who contemplate the law with a negative eye are at odds with the Divine decree. Those who perceive its order and beauty are more able to behold the character of the Almighty and to serve in His Kingdom.
The Antithesis means that there is no middle ground, no neutrality, no common area in God’s universe. There is no communication between Christ and Belzebub, between our Savior and the Baals. As God’s people, we are the ecclesia, the called-out ones, a covenant people, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. The apostle reminded us that the promise is unto you and to your children. The Kingdom is not an offer or merely a possibility, but rather an absolute certainty established and won by the perfect obedience and by the blood of Christ.
The antithesis is nowhere more flatly stated than by the Lord’s apostle who spoke of the gospel as a compelling aroma whose savor brings about life or death in those hearing it. We are taught that the knowledge of Christ is everywhere and that its effect is always potent to men. In God’s chosen people its fruit is light and life. To the reprobate its fruit is dark and fatal.
The Antithesis In History
God, in executing His plan has almost always made use of powerful antithetical means. The slave child, Moses, was destined to be reared by his own mother, but in the court of Pharaoh. God chose a small, insignificant nation to embody His strategy for the whole world, to receive His precepts and give physical form to the world’s Messiah. The Lord of glory took upon Himself true human flesh, he ministered in local neighborhoods and synagogues, not in grand temples and theaters of man. The Great Commission, Matt.28:19-20, was for the whole world, but spoken to only a few plain men.
The question of methodology can’t help but force itself upon us. Why is God pleased always to be represented by the lesser, even the trivial? Why not the missionaries? Why not a faithful denomination? Why is it that Microsoft, MacDonalds and IBM present the challenge to the world of paganism? Why must an apostate, Christ-denying nation still be the only reluctant representative of Christianity in the world?
Islam hasn’t missed the message. Western wealth and supremacy in technology, medicine, education and every area of business presents a faithful testimony to the effectiveness of God’s law. Many residuals of grace remain in place, like giant markers of a sacred Stonehenge. Private property, dependable currencies, banking and contracts, Christian work ethic and fantastic productiveness say everything. Muslim hatred of what it perceives as the Christian West should be a fully anticipated response. This mounting conflict is an accurate and understandable manifestation of the effects of the antithesis.
God Ordains Unlikely Pastors
But, why is God pleased to have Exxon-Mobil and GE as His representative? Why is the wholly synthesized Roman Catholic Church considered by the world’s media the only seat of the true faith? Why not great churchmen? Why not medical or educational missions that bring fruits of the gospel to needy people? Why not a modern Martin Luther? The answer is too obvious, it would seem. God’s disconcerting custom has always been to use the unlikely, the unknown, the weak and beggarly elements. This is proof that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. His glory and gracious initiative are what men most need to see and acknowledge.
The Lord called Abraham, a fellow from Ur of the Chaldees to be His number-one faithful servant. He used a small slave nation that endlessly resisted His favor to show forth His glory. Gideon’s three hundred-man army was employed to defeat a force one hundred times as large. The Son of God, in His humility, crushed the serpent’s head. The means is most often the unexpected.
Globalization From Antiquity
Even as the explorers and kings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries submerged their more seamy motives in the sacred, conversely, men today go about their seamy business while they also, in spite of personal motive, advance the growth of Christ’s Kingdom. A shameful example from history is the slave traffic that brought misery to many, but also brought millions more into the hearing of the gospel. Globalization has followed many forms.
Envy And Hate Verses Grace And Productivity
Events of our day, the threat of attack and the insanity of suicidal violence loom over us because of the antithesis. Cultures built on envy and darkness will ever loathe that which they cannot reach. The seed of Esau will not turn in repentance and faith, but will ever grind against the pricks. In many ways the lords of militant Islam grasp more of these truths than do most evangelical Christians today. They note very keenly the cultural differences, the gaping chasm that exists between the harsh determinism of Allah and the grace of the sovereign God of the Bible.
Muslim warriors and pagans around the world understood the significance of the Trade Towers in New York. The Rockefellers built these buildings as extravagant temples of the Baals. Their religion was to foster world peace through commerce and trade, which are good in themselves, but not without a sound basis in Christ and in biblical law. Democracy, the sacrament of Humanism, was to become the world’s creed instead of Jesus Christ, but the end-run of the reprobate was doomed to fail. God brought the temple down in heaps. The Bible says that He has them in derision. That is, God laughs at the attempts of the reprobate to conceive another truth, another religion.
1. Most obvious is the confrontation of Islam with Christianity. Islam fears change, being swallowed up by Western, Christian, ways, and loss of control over masses of ignorant people. Based on envy (Esau and Ishmael) it is the religion of the poor and uneducated.
Islam has everything to lose from globalization. Only sale of oil brings vast sums into its coffers. The antithesis is brought into play in making more obvious the failures of Islam and its frequent use of violence and repression.
2. Not as obvious is the injury to other pagan religions that is the result of globalization. The antithesis strikes at the heart of paganism. Tribal hatreds are minimized when commerce and trade become popular in backward economies. Example: Red China now finds it more difficult to control her masses. Even Tibet is opening to outside influence. The Deli Lama, it turns out, is a nice guy and likes to live in Western style.
3. The antithesis strikes home on the individual level. Reprobate men will lap up new technologies and be swamped with greater evils, temptations, debt, porn, and many categories of sin that they ordinarily would never have dreamed about. Many are quickly pushed into a deeper hell while God’s faithful people use the same tools for growth and strength.
4. Islam is being raised up by God to confront the Church in its pervasive antinomian ways. Compromise and lack of discipline characterize the Church almost everywhere. The unpleasant force of Islam may be used to challenge Christians to dig more deeply, to discover once again the value and absolute necessity of God’s precepts. In Nigeria a thirteen state area adopted Islamic law and crime went way down. Lawless churches cannot make this boast. The Muslims say “religion cannot be separated from politics, economics, culture or anything else.” They are right.
5. The United Nations is increasingly exposed as the impotent organization that it is, even though its advocates are relentless in efforts to revive it. The World Federalist News, a One-World journal crows incessantly about the UN mission being undermined. One-worlders hate globalization for the same reason dictators and tribal chiefs do. Virtually everyone will choose freedom of enterprise and the expansion of commerce over UN programs. The net result will be a clearer opening for the Christian gospel to go forth.
6. Globalization is an engine of the antithesis. We are privileged to admire and celebrate the power, wisdom, strategies and victories of our Lord. We are gathered at His table by His call and command to remember His perfect satisfaction of divine justice, to rejoice with Him in the success of His rule.