Rome Again

Meditations on Isaiah 5.

I like to sometimes think about what it would have been like to Romulus, one of the founders of Rome, thinking that you had quite literally changed the world for the better of all mankind forever. His vision of Rome was, I’m sure much like what so many political pioneers hoped for in their visions–just, unique, influential. How many years did it take for this vision to be lost in something that he never intended, how many decades until Rome became a source for undermining humanity, how many centuries until it became the epicenter for vice, power, and destruction, and how many cultures had been upended and destroyed by their colonization. More importantly, how many years until Rome became a tourist destination. Now, people might plan a summer vacation to Rome just like they would Disney land. Rome land. You can take a picture with a costumed gladiator in front of the Colosseum ruins if you’d like. I know this might sound a little jaded, but it’s also the reality of what is left of Rome. My point is, why are we so easily convinced that our project, this one, will finally be the one that doesn’t turn into a relic of centuries past, an empty memory for people to visit before getting back to their own empire that is destined to share the same fate?

If you call yourself a disciple of Jesus, and the Kingdom of God is not the story, not the grace-filled empire that you have stepped into, I wonder if you might find yourself in those last days looking into the face of the Son of Man and wondering why He looks so unfamiliar to you. I just can’t help but to wonder why we think our empire–whether it be a church, a nation, an idea, a political movement you name it–will finally be the one that is never forgotten about, which never crumbles. Especially when the scriptures tell us that there is one kingdom to which the whole of creation groans. Maybe we should step inside this story. Maybe we should accept that we aren’t, by the grace of God, to be the ones to finally fix humanity and create an earthly kingdom that can last more than a few generations. Maybe it’s time we stop in our tracks and step into God’s story. Maybe we humans are not the center. And maybe that’s the best news you’ve heard all day. It is for me.

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