THE POLITICAL PAGE

August 2008

 

Summer Evening Talk

 

Dear male and female readers,

 

It is summer, time for vacation and relaxation, for travelling and garden parties and for relaxed meetings. So why not also with the "Political Page"?! Let's just interrupt the series on the big treaties and the serious work and sit outside, everybody with his or her camp chair in a circle. I will simply address a few subjects in a chatty style. Of course, one could certainly write long articles about the subjects but I just want to mention them briefly. I want to encourage discussion and provide an impulse for prayer. I would just like to share some thoughts about Germany and the world, and about Israel and the End Times. I'm inviting young people and young adults to participate in this exchange of thoughts today.

 

It is no longer possible to consider Germany in isolation because national and international affairs are interlinked at all levels – secularly as well as spiritually. So, future generations will naturally consider the world, with all its interconnections, as a network and they will respond accordingly. So I'd like to share my thoughts about Germany from this view point.

 

 

1. The World has turned into a village

 

People living in villages react very fast. In a village everybody knows everybody. So nothing stays a secret, and you're transparent and controllable at the same time.

Companies start to act on international level and their smallest success and failures are observed and evaluated by market operators. The GDP of every nation is being measured and published annually. The world has become a village and everybody knows everybody.

Individuals are chatting with the whole world today. We receive emails in seconds and from the farthest corners of the world. Whoever so chooses can see his correspondent in a video chat. Evening by evening, pictures from around the globe flood our living rooms and we don't have any problem with it.

With the change in telecommunication, other kinds of transport are also turning the world into a village. My parents needed several weeks to reach Indonesia; today it only takes a few hours.

The world has come closer to us and with it the ‘problems of the others'. First of all – as has already been mentioned – through TV. It shows us in our living rooms, from around the world, the same black, yellow or brown faces we see when we go for a stroll in the city. These people are investing all of their money, and risking their lives, to reach the prohibited areas of Europe and live here. For decades, the political elite of our country have refused to acknowledge that Germany has always been a popular country for immigrants. If the world has become a village, then Mr. Adejemo from Nigeria and Ms. Sulawesi from Bali have the right to be my real neighbours. Perhaps, they have owned a German passport for some years and they may even speak a little German.

But then what does it mean to be a ‘German'? Given rampant globalisation, will ‘nations' and ‘peoples' exist in the future? I say yes and yes again! They will still exist because there remains a difference between the ‘natives' and ‘newcomers'. For the one, Germany is the ‘fatherland' – the country of their parents; and for the other Germany is their ‘home' – and eventually the country of their birth. To be a popular country for immigrants requires that the natives grant the newcomers room in their fatherland and their hearts. They need to feel sufficiently at home to allow others to share it.

 

For the generations to come, a Europe perspective must be replaced by a global viewpoint. As an older person, I invite young people to travel around the world, to study foreign countries and cultures and to develop a sense for their own culture through this encounter. I'm speaking from experience, here: I was born in Indonesia, brought up in Japan. I returned to Germany in Europe after the war in a ship after crossing the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and after a short stay in the USA. As an adult, I have visited some other European countries, as well as Nigeria and I have been to Uganda a few times. I know what it means to be a foreigner and so I have an open heart toward meeting foreigners, especially those from Africa and the Far East. The best way to overcome our fear of foreigners is to meet them.

The next generation needs to know where it comes from and where it is. And it must grasp, with a keen spirit and an open heart, how small the world has become.

Yes, the vastness and scale of globalisation can cause fear. But we as Christians know that “HE has got the whole world in His hand”. Our God is a global God. He was global before and his actions, as the Lord of the world, will be global until the end of the days. Whoever thinks and prays globally is approaching God's universal thoughts. As Christians we have always believed that God's salvation is for the whole world. Globalisation enables us to put our faith into operation faster and target it more precisely. So we, as Christians, can joyfully exploit telecommunication for Jesus. We can do evangelisation by satellite and use every internet option.

 

 

2. The world has turned into a greenhouse

 

It is a joy to see how keen German policy is to limit CO 2 emissions and to develop alternative energies. It was good to see how the German Chancellor managed to compel her European colleagues to set specific targets for 2020. She did it in a way that permitted her, as the EU President, to exert pressure on the other industrial nations using Europe as a role model. However praiseworthy this was, it will not change the future global warming of the earth.

The next generation will know a completely different world. The poles and glaciers are melting, the sea level and the temperature of the seas is increasing; droughts, storms and flooding are the result of it. These are no longer the problems of one single country; they are global problems.

Nevertheless, we have been the pace makers and I am proud of my country. It has already marked the consciousness of the world regarding the protection of the environment for decades ahead – in contrast to other countries. And Germany is one of the leading countries in tapping alternative sources of energy.

As Christians, however, we're doing even more. We know the call of God to protect and preserve His creation. In the face of worldwide climatic catastrophes, we will not be deceived by: “Anyhow there is nothing you can do about it”, or even the excuse that: “It's up to those in high places to solve the problem”. As Christians we have to check our actions in the light of God and think about our contribution to energy savings. We can avoid gas emissions (i.e. type of vehicle, speed), protect resources such as the water and recycle waste.

A new generation of Christians will turn their backs on the thoughtlessness of my generation and will obey God in considering his creation and using nature's resources gratefully.

Let me make a final remark about the statement that global warming has nothing to do with CO 2 emissions. Also that the greenhouse effect is "an absolutely normal" process which, over the centuries, has always been marked by climatic ups and downs. Beside this, CO 2 has always been essential for plant growth. According to these folks, the whole climatic scare is nothing but a staged performance.

Anyone who talks like that should know that fossil fuels are limited and will be exhausted. So it is important to protect them for economic reasons even if there is no need to do so from a climatically point of view.

While we are considering the needs of Creation, we need to understand that the forests, the lungs of the CO 2 recycling process, are no longer bursting with health but are dying, slowly but surely. There is also another kind of gas produced by the burning of fossil fuels. This becomes a chemical acid, like H 2 SO 4 and HNO 3 which in the form of ‘acid rain' or fog destroys the fine roots of trees.

Everybody recognises that Man is to blame for the extinction of species and climate change. But if this is true, we, as children of God who know the will of our creator, should be the first to pioneer every measure that enables cohabitation of nature alongside us humans. To see Christians rejecting co-responsibility during the present changes in nature is incomprehensible to me. The Apostle Paul could see and hear how “creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Rom. 8, 18-23). Then, once again, creation will breathe deeply in perfect relief. But this also means that, where salvation through Christ is obvious in the children of God, all creation should be allowed to experience His salvation. Or, am I mistaken?

Let us not fight over the climate change. Instead, let us compete, in little things as well as in big ones, to meet the glorious and priestly command to establish and preserve the creation. Every creature should feel safe in our proximity and scent the sweet fragrance of salvation.

 

 

3. Germany and Israel

 

It is one of the most exciting things, in the development of Christianity – even in Germany, to see how believers are more and more in sympathy with the irreversible history of the salvation of Israel. A few decades ago, the story was very different. Although the persecution of Jews during the 3rd Reich was condemned, the predominant opinion was that God had placed the church first and put Israel in the shade. This view is called “Replacement Theology”. In the past, it was said, the promises of the Bible belonged to Israel but now they belong to Christians. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood!” According to 1Pet 2:9, the Jewish people are God's favourites.

It is the worldwide work of the Holy Spirit that this old way of thinking should change. A love towards Israel has emerged and the fact that God chose Israel as His the permanent ‘first-born' children is being recognised again with joy and without jealousy.

For Germany there is also the calamity of the Shoah perpetrated by the Nazis. Germany's approach to Israel is a double process: a secular as well as a salvation-historical process. For us Germans it is important in our relationship with Israel: to acknowledge Israel as the ‘elder brother' by the same Father; and to be pro-Israel as Germans even though three generations have passed.

But we as Christians can pass over conviction and atonement and go on to the cross. We can experience what a Messianic Jewish pastor told Germans, regarding Auschwitz-Birkenau, that “the Blood of Jesus Christ cries out louder than Abel's shed blood”.

After the fright of the Shoah, a 4 th generation is emerging in Germany. God lays the sins of the fathers on their children down to the 3rd and 4th generation but His wrath will not last for ever. God granted the German people the reunification as an undeniable sign of his mercy in the 3 rd Generation. As the 4 th generation may understand, God wants to give them a new kind of relationship towards Israel in Germany and, in Israel, a relationship of friendship and trust towards Germany. During the coming tumultuous times it would be good for Israel to know that “This time Germany is on your side and will stand in the gap for you”.

This has been expressed very clearly in the whole world by this present Federal Government. After the war in Lebanon, Chancellor Merkel said that the German Navy is cruising off the Lebanon coast “to protect Israel” – a declaration by Germany which was hard for the Arabs to accept. This year, in March, she encouraged regular governmental consultations between both countries. And the recent exchange of Hezbollah prisoners against two murdered Israelian soldiers was a result of German negotiations. All of this shows that we are at the threshold of a new relationship between Germany and Israel.

Unfortunately, the change in public opinion is not as fast as the growing friendship between the governments. In 2003, approx. 60% of the Germans considered Israel to be one of the biggest dangers for the world peace. And in 2008, 50% of the Germans were against special privileges for Israel in German policy. I believe that, despite a menacing anti-Semitic undercurrent, there is also something right about this. German-Israeli diplomacy can no longer be carried out on the basis of guilt and atonement; it has to be brought up to a level of equality. This does not mean, of course, an immediate relationship of friendship, but it is a first step towards future friendship. Now is the time when the Church is called to go on ahead in its teachings, its practices (sacrifices, visitors, partnerships), in its prayers and in its testimonies in the cities and across the country. The Church is called to be the head and not the tail in these developments.

How do you implement this in your groups?

 

 

4. When the Spirit moves

 

It says in the prophet Joel 2:28: “And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people… (31) before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”

The global amalgamations such as the EU or the UN, the worldwide telecommunication, and the increasingly sophisticated controls possible, are working hand in hand with the development of, and are recognized as, End Time characteristics. The Antichrist is at the point of intersection of all globally useable human means. But he will not only use them politically, but also religiously. And this is the real problem that those who believe in Christ will have with the Antichrist. Because, according to 1. John 2:22 & 23 and 4:2-4, he will deny Jesus as the Son of God and declare that Jesus, as the Christ (Messiah and Saviour), has now come as a human being. And Rev. 13 says that this Antichrist will bring blasphemy against God and he will attract attention through awesome miraculous healings. As he will present himself as the Christ, he will also appear as the saviour of the world and will be worshipped as god. As the saviour of the world he will proclaim many ideals for the salvation of the world. People will agree them, and all of them will be ‘Christian values' but without Christ. The failed EU-constitution with the high ideals of its Basic Laws – explicitly but without God – are a present-day example of this.

In Rev. 13:7 we hear about a “war”, i.e. a contest between the beast and the Holy People in the course of which the Holy People will be put into prison or even killed (v. 7 & 10). But Christians who don't know the Bible don't believe in the End Times. They just believe in the One who will return. Therefore, they don't fear the “End Times” and they hide themselves … as a precaution (nonsense!). But they 'lift their heads up' and know who will really win in the end: HE, JESUS. Rev. 13:10 therefore ends with: “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints!” Where does this faith come from? On the one hand it is because they see (v.7) that all the power which the beast has was "given to him" by God. So the times during which he can exert his power is limited by God. God is, and will remain, the Sovereign Lord of History.

But before this will happen, God promises once again a worldwide outpouring of the Spirit ‘upon all flesh'. We are just about to enter this time. All over the world, we notice an opening for religious things in recent times, a questioning, a searching for the meaning of life, for security, for "God". This is noticeable in all the media, the indicators of the new social trends. If religious themes were mentioned slightly in the past, today TV dedicates whole days to religious themes (‘Fundamentalism'). Or the F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (a German newspaper which appears in Frankfurt) publishes a religious commentary on its front page. This is not a break through yet, in the sense of revival, but it indicates a rising expectation throughout the country.

It is good to have a new generation with new Churches and new types of services; because there will be this “new” vessel to gather the revived people.

But it will be important to anchor these revived people in Christ the Crucified One; because the message of the Antichrist will include all those positive and religious approaches. All except the message of the cross. Because the pride of humans breaks under the cross and the cross reveals the glory of God, both are unacceptable to the Antichrist.

Within the next few years, Jesus has to be proclaimed as the one who was crucified. He is the Saviour who gives the Spirit to those with open hearts. If we don't, people will get stuck with religious feelings and wrong teachings. God, however, gives His Spirit for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”.

And we are His witnesses until Jesus returns. And the Spirit and the Church as the Bride says: “Come! Amen! Yes come, Lord Jesus“.

 

 

PRAYER

 

1. The world as a village

 

2. The world as a greenhouse

 

3. Germany and Israel

 

 

4. When the Spirit moves

 

Ortwin Schweitzer

 

Sources: wikipedia.de