The New World is Now

Matthew 19:28 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world (palingenesia), when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

The rich young ruler, whom scripture specifically describes as someone Jesus loved, has gone away sorrowful because of the realization that to fully follow God, he must embrace poverty of spirit, and in so doing, walk away from all the things upon which he has relied. A life void of materialism, possessions, savings, investments, insurance, consumerist ideals – indeed, a life where Mammon has been dethroned – is not only frightening, but so completely antagonistic to the universally accepted wisdom of society, that to even consider it makes one either a fool or a radical or insane in the eyes of others.

 

Yet, the band of apprentices around Jesus had done just that. This little group of 40 or 50 women and men had given up everything – houses, land, families, prestige, security, societal acceptance – to follow Jesus. What, Peter (spokesperson that he is) will be the issue?

 

Jesus replied that in the “παλιγγενεσία” (palingenesia) His interns would sit on thrones under His authority administrating (not judging) the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

Palingenesia, or, in English, palingenesis, is used only this once in the New Testament. Its meaning stems from the Greek palin, meaning again, and genesis, meaning birth. The Stoic philosophers used the word to describe the continual recreation of the universe by the Creator. Rabbi Philo of Alexandria used it to describe the rebirth of the planet earth after the flood. The ESV substitutes the phrase “new world,” which unfortunately might imply the destruction of this one.

 

But the Bible does not teach that this present material universe will be destroyed and replaced by something else. God’s creation is essentially good, yet currently corrupted by human sin that has, sadly, infected the entire universal ecosystem, resulting in wars, hatred, violence, revenge, selfishness, xenophobia, racism, classism, homophobia, poverty, misogynist-driven patriarchies, general injustice, greed, and so on.

 

With the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah there began a great palingenesia, a renewal of all things – hating hearts transformed into loving hearts; prejudiced minds transformed into accepting attitudes; fear replaced with faith; nationalism replaced with universal love. “Change your way of thinking,” Jesus announced, “the Kingdom of God is here now!”

 

Yet, as the Apostle Paul says, we do not yet see all things under the control of God’s love. Creation groans with tsunamis and cancers. The antelope cries to God from the jaws of the jackal. Governments are run by the narcissistic, the selfish, the greedy, the cruel.

 

Still, we dance. The great palingenesia has begun. We see it. We feel it. We see it in authentic community. We hear it in the laughter of children. We watch it in the service projects and the marches for justice. We see it in the nonviolent protestor being carried to jail, in the environmentalist preserving the ecosystem, in the teacher, the tutor, the nurse, the young woman reading to the blind old lady in the nursing home. We see it in opposition to institutionalized racism and capital punishment. We see it as people listen deeply to one another. By faith, we see a future that is otherwise unpredictable – a future without war, without poverty, void of hatred, racism and violence. We see a future where tears are no more because grief is nonexistent. Daily we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Sailor, thinker, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, husband, father, grandfather

Posted on April 1, 2017, in Bible, Christianity, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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