“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
It’s Jesus talking. Don’t be scared. Or offended. This invitation is found in the book of Revelation, like some kind of warning. It’s Jesus’ plea to the seven ancient churches who have become dodgy with the truth; he is telling people who should already know better, not to close the door on good advice.
In the Bible verse, Jesus is not just barging in. He’s standing there politely seeking permission. And yet, he can elicit a visceral reaction from all the wrong people, simply by daring to show up and ask the question.
“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:16)
There are a lot of people offended these days. They are offended by the wrong things, generally. There is a lot of bad stuff openly promoted out there, that you are not allowed to comment on, lest they come for you. There are matters of what is true, matters of identity, politics, and matters of what you should and should not do. There are matters of public policy and disease. What used to be nominal, now becomes property of the state. What you say will get you censured, and it may wind up getting you arrested. Unless you are on the dominant side which you find promoted daily in the media, you are not allowed to comment. They can be a demagogue and trumpet their views to the whole world, but you are not allowed to voice your opinion out loud.
I have a little Gideon Bible that I got in grade six at school, back when it was allowed. It might be a litmus test for just how much the world has changed in my own lifetime. Back then, the predominant zeitgeist was Christian, and it was assumed that this was a good thing, whether it was merely cultural, or whether that spilled over into moral behaviour. Sadly, it’s no longer allowed to hand those Bibles out in school. Moreover, it has been suggested that the Bible is a form of hate literature, by them that for inexplicable reasons, are allowed to hate it and say so out loud. The same people can teach prepubescent kids that there is no such thing as a boy or a girl in nature, that they are free to “choose” their gender. The people promoting such viewpoints are so dangerous, that a US supreme court judge recently declined to offer up a definition to the basic question, “What is a woman?” lest they come for her.
It’s not like evil just got invented yesterday. Lord knows there have been plenty of perverse times and places in history where people were violent and out of control. It’s just that the West in general has been a bastion against that tendency, bedded in the idea of democracy, bedded further in the fertile ground of Christianity, a moral bulwark against wickedness setting down roots within a society and its people. But all that has changed. Now you are not allowed to voice your own truth, and more than that, you can even be compelled to repeat things you do not believe to be true, simply because the State wishes it so. They are busy giving teeth to the law, so that your ideas (the ones they don’t like) will have consequences.
All this should come as no surprise, the Bible predicts it. 2 Timothy: 4 - “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Jesus himself warned how dangerous things would become. John 16:2 - “…the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” Again no surprises. It’s a spiritual battle and the human soul is the battle field. Ephesians 6:12 - “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Isaiah the prophet (a man not afraid to offer an opinion) calls this for what it is. Isaiah 5:20 - “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness to light and light to darkness, who replace bitter with sweet and sweet with bitter.” Ideas have consequences. There’s a “woe” out there just waiting to happen to those who unashamedly promote falsehood.
With the risk of sounding like an old fart, this much is true. A living human being can gauge a significant amount of social and moral drift, in the scope of one single lifetime. That’s something to remark on. There is something perverse and topsy-turvy in the unspoken notion that you can promote things that are evil with impunity, but you cannot weigh in on the side of the truth without risking ridicule. We live in the kind of times where it can be dangerous to have an opinion.
But, as I often say to my own kids, it’s too late for me. It’s about choice. Logic decrees that if it’s ok for others to entertain certain ideas, it’s also ok for me to have mine. And here I am, dangerous or not.