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We used to play a game called Simon Says. You had to do whatever the front person did. It tested perception and execution speed and accuracy. It was also fun.
Nowadays Simon is often subjected to a name change - Community Says! comes the call.
The COMMUNITY OF NATIONS, and the COMMUNITY AT LARGE, not to mention the PROFESSIONAL or the MEDICAL or the ACADEMIC COMMUNITY, even the AEROBIC COMMUNITY could be called. These and like bodies innumerable can tell you what they think or want; and you should estimate it, we learn, and ponder what is their mind or will or affection or the respect due, or demand to be made.
Even a computing body tells its members at large and at a length that is, for anything not specifically sermonic, quite astonishing, just HOW and WHEN and to what EXTENT the community (this time a sort of generalised one, out there, doing whatever communities of this status, manage to do, when they are not being too busy because so often invoked) must be served. This august body, the community, must be of great importance and esteem, so to be the butt and basis, the call and form of obedience and serviceable activities.
Your priorities MUST put first the community; its interests must at all times trip readily from your pen (in joining the organisation) or your mind, if speaking to it, or to its denizens (I mean the community, not the society). One is, it seems almost to imply, to forget about God and other priorities that some might want to mention at least; and above all, to ignore utterly anything that could resemble a top priority, for that is by a tour de force, of necessity ... you have guessed, the community.
Internationally, it has greater clout still, for a tinge of realism is still able to exist in Australia, in terms of the community NOT really being one at all, but rather a name of leisure, for the very divergent facts of life. There are Trade Unions and Employers, Doctors and Patients, Pastors and congregations, Liberal and Labour backers or supporters, thieves and robbed - and indeed, one wonders whether there will even come a time when the thieves' union - NO discrimination, PLEASE! - will be able to insure against legal costs if caught, and have pay allowances because of professional perils. But to the point: all these are not so obviously a community.
After all, a COM + UNITY is a unity of togetherness. There are some things in common: the thieves and the robbed both breathe, prefer normally to remain alive, have limiting desires - that is, the thieves do not want to be caught with too much, and the robbed to be deprived of too much.
Even so, with due allowance for all sorts of formal similarities, there are notable, and some would say notorious, differences of AIM. The robber wants what is yours without legal or commercial ground; and you want it too, in the very face of the need or desire which the thief makes so very clear, when he holds a gun, or a spanner. People want different things, like pleasure, as one magnate was making very clear recently, and the way to lay hands on more and more of it; while some want prestige, and the means to gain more of it; and some love God, and want to do His will, even if the devil is not of the same opinion, and prefers a bit of psychological, academic and political force to bolster his deprived and depraved case. Everybody knows, or says, or thinks ... he used often enough to say; but now he has a new code word. It is not that the thing is bad in itself, if it be found; it is the USE made of it!
There IS NO COMMUNITY, in the end of it all, in this world alone; but there are aggregations, and groupings and combinations. Community SHOULD suggest a UNITY. You may say that there is always a geographical unity, but while this is so in some cases - as in the Australian 'community', there is still the problem that we are people, not pieces of territory, so that at best it is ambiguous. It could be that we are a disunity residing in a territorial unity; but is this land able to speak ? Or is it that a majority of SOME kind having elected a government of SOME kind, it is felt or held or opined that there is a unity in what is SAID BY IT, granted that it is representative ? But the opposition do not call even that a unity.
There IS a unity in the path of God, when you find it in Jesus Christ, the alone testified and verified religious figure of history, to whom logic compels, and from whom faith springs into action for the believer. That is a normal and necessary and natural unity. HE MADE US so that WHAT THE DESIGN IS, He desires, and when He gets it, it is ONE, and hence there really IS unity. There is no unity when the Bible is blasted with ingenious casuistries, but then that is so in any body where scheming devices abound. What is different even in that regard about the Biblical faith, is this, that the Bible is so clear that (as we saw for example in the last chapter) even the most authoritarian substitutes for each teaching, and even the most woeful abuses of its words, do not stand up. That is one major reason why Christ was so lethal to the false religionists of His own day, and why the Reformation was able to stand against such massifs of tradition as Rome, the Gentile equivalent in spiritual form, of the force mode of those who politically assassinated Christ, using a show of law in the process. In the former case, the body was dealt with; in the latter, it is invented and dealt with, differently.
Again, there is the assumption by some governmental employers, that their 'CROWN' FIRST phrasings are to be OBEYED even to the end, by anyone fortunate enough to be given employment with them. That is the style of one such contract, recently viewed. The recipient would need to be willing to do whatever the Minister told him towards the ends in view. Is he/she then to be trusted as God, in wisdom, in knowledge, or even in assured integrity without question in all things relevant ? Where is private judgment ? Where is the soul ? Nevertheless, the government community wished it so; and only the brave and the people of integrity would be likely to resist. There are some such however.
The first priority of the Christian is Christ. In Canada a court case is coming up this year in which the right of a University to require its students to behave in some moral ways (such as avoiding sodomy, and drugs), is being challenged by some teachers' association. The idea is that some people like certain standards and the question is whether the COMMUNITY (whoever it may be deemed to be) may want things different. Thus even some Christian schools have been subjected to pressure to FORGET about morality when it comes to employment, and to be perfectly happy (or at least willing) to employ those practising adultery and so on - and such a case has come to the writer's attention in the last year, in Australia.
It is true that in this case, the pressure was resisted
successfully, but there can be other outcomes.
The wishes of the community need not be found by statistical methods; they can quite well be assumed. The UN can come to the help of the afflicted, when they cannot impose their immoral ways and will on others, and tell that the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY deems such restrictions, such gross distortions of rights, such moral intrusions, to be immoral. That was almost the style of things in Tasmania, when they had a naughty law making it appear that perversion was not the goods; and they had to be SHOWN, with it seems, some sense of international sanction or appeal, the error of their interest in morality. Another morality was to be used; which did not call itself moral; which just goes to show how immoral the morality neutral dictatorship of the proletariat can become! It is as neutral as China towards Taiwan.
Morals are free, the national or international community may freely tell those on whom it wishes to impose its own morals, at cost. If you doubt it, ask the UN... or some other community. If then the way is NARROW to eternal life, as Christ STATED, then clearly the broader the community to which you appeal, the more likely it becomes you can be immorally inundated with the invisible but audible 'morals' of the immoral. THOU SHALT NOT CALL ANYTHING BAD; FOR THAT IS BAD, COMES THE IDIOTIC CLAMOUR. It almost reminds one of Lot in Sodom, before its destruction, when even the angels were objects of lust (Genesis 19:5).
In just such ways does the community often and
readily serve as nothing less than a verbal device to ensure
submission to the outrages which Sodom and Gomorrah might well have winced
to hear. The community in this way can become a moral sewer, a place of
ill-fame; and incidentally, we may hear shortly that the community wants
brothels legalised and a removal of the concept of SHAME from places of
ill-fame, in that this is discrimination. After all, if some women feel
the necessity to sell their bodies to anti-feministic men who do not appreciate
their personalities, but wish to use their bodies, is not their own affair
? Why should not men do this in the peace of pleasant personal and professional
surroundings ? This one might well expect to hear! Why should people be people, if the community does not like to think of them as such, but wants to view them rather as service units! - this would be the refrain!
The Church community really is a use of the phrase which the adversaries of Biblical Christianity could do more to flout, at least to this writer's mind. It is relatively rarely found. We hear of the World Council of Churches, of course, and in that context no doubt a lot of talk of this or that community could be made; but in the outer world, we more often seem to hear of the denominational differences being overcome. This may be deemed to have occurred (by the Community) when the World Lutheran Federation managed to agree to the main extent, with Rome on the justification by faith point, which started the division long ago, and concerning which Rome's Trent Council still sends adversaries merrily to hell - (SMR pp. 1044ff., 526-533, That Magnificent Rock Ch. 2, esp. Section 2). It may be held to have happened when the Anglican-RC Commission agreed the pope would be the leader to have. (Cf. The Trendy Ecumenical Museum, Ch.1 of Stepping Out for Christ.) Others may deem it a betrayal of the centuries old requirements of the Bible, and others again, that this does not matter. Certainly it has occurred (cf. SMR pp. -1042-1088H).
However what does the community want ? Have you guessed ? It is community! Such at least appears to be the genius of the concept (for it is actually at large, a concept, rather than people). There is to be a togetherness in appropriate religious activities. (Thus we are 'advancing' from the bad old Communist days, when God was told to get out of Russia, bag and baggage, only later to have His word asked for, freely, on the part of Russian parliamentarians, when it was available in the foyer, according to report). Now it is enough that if you must religionize (a code word for the adversary!), you do it in the prescribed manner, in registered churches (as in Russia, China) or in Australia, appropriate one, approved by .. you have guessed, the community.
This appropriateness is something that, it appears, the COMMUNITY CAN TELL. It is assuredly the word (over) used in the Victorian extravanganza which was intending to tell the schools what religions were appropriate, and how to have one, and what would be tolerated in religious terms within the schools, and what ministers should do, and how behave, if they were allowed on the premises. You MUST (in general as a minimum) approve of all sizable bodies (with the possible exception of suicide pact types). After that, there are features which NO appropriate religion should be permitted to have, in public or in schools at least. Thus the religion of convenience, for all the world, like the marriage of convenience, arises ... or falls! Details of this notable achievement in Victoria are to be found in Deliver Us from Educational Temptation.
If then the bureaucrats do not tell you direct, they can cite the community. And then the community tells YOU, as in Simon Says. Community says... JOIN CHURCHES! Community says: DO NOT (repeat not) worry about the Bible, except in its black cover. Use it as a SYMBOL of truth, and then agree on whatever. It does not matter. Community says...
Now of course it would be wonderful if the churches were more so in name, than many of them are (and this is the same case as in the days of Paul, when he spoke of the invasive delusionists who were making cheap fodder of the Corinthian church - as in II Corinthians 11. Such an infection and failure in many nominally Christian bodies was certainly often predicted to become exceedingly widespread (II Peter 2, I Timothy 4, II Timothy 3, Acts 20, Revelation 13, Matthew 24, II Thessalonians 2).
This situation WAS to be (as it is in fact) the case in that detailed complex and climate of events, like a predictive tartan, which Christ put together (as in Matthew 24, Luke 19-21), concerning the end of the Age; and that climate is now fulfilled. There was to be an enormous amount of religious fraud, false prophecy and false christs, and delusive teachers arising from within the walls of church groups, with deadly merchandise, in fact as II Peter 2-3 tells us, with death warrants against the faith (the way he puts it - damnable heresies).
Indeed, Biblically, one of the chief needs for the completion
of this Age, is the unrolling of the red carpet for the antichrist, man
of sin, deluded dynamic, devious and directive.
Assuredly, HE will fulfil it all, actually showing himself that he is God (as the glorious irony of II Thess. 2 has it).
Then he will be about making, in the process and on an unprecedented international scale, what the pope, and Mao, and Stalin, Napoleon, Genghis Khan and all the rest of the ruling delicacies have done only regionally. It is a good lurk to start ... community! religious community, commercial community, political community, ecological community ... it lives like a dying dream.
No dream however will be the dying moments of this Age (Matthew 24:29ff., Revelation 16-19). It will stand - or rather fall - on its own for all history (Matthew 24:22). What it falls on will be the knife, indeed the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, which warned its inhabitants, who nevertheless in droves, pitilessly (for themselves) refuse to repent (as in Revelation 9:20ff.).
It is a tempestuous time in the Age of the Church; but the peace of purity in Christ is the same, surpassing all understanding. It alone is able to be the truth; and it is verified in heart, and spirit and archeology and prophecy and logic and validity and in detail in things psychological, moral, biological, physical so constantly and consistently, that a special type of dark glasses is needed to avoid it. It is known, in the language of Jesus Christ, as shutting the eyes (Matthew 13:14ff.).
Some people do not like the concept of blindness, it seems; but if it is not blind, why not SHOW that, instead of allowing the logic of the case to expose the reality of the condition (cf. SMR Chs.1-3, A Spiritual Potpourri and That Magnificent Rock).