In the time of Monsters

David Ruis, Jan 5, 2024, 9:05 PM
David Ruis National Director
Jan ND Reflection.png

"The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters."

Antonio Gramsci 1929

Not only does Gramsci's insight capture what was happening in the unsettling transformation of the mid-20th century world in which he lived, but it seems to resonate with what we are experiencing here in the early 21st century.

Politics. Religion. Morality. Science. Technology. The Arts. Social Media. Commerce. Stirred up. In flux. Even things that are not necessarily chronologically that old, fade quickly, change being the only certainty.

The dust has far from settled and we peer into its lingering haze with eyes burning, straining to see what's ahead.

Yet one thing we are seeing. Clearly.

Such societal tectonic shifts reveal monsters.

We not only see new monsters taking shape in the swirling grime, but monsters that have always been there. Some long lurking in the shadows, and others quite in the open even if sheltered behind an Ozian curtain of clever deception, corrupted power and clandestine atrocities.

And the Church is not immune

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

"It's judgment time for God's own family. We're first in line."

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

"Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!"

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

Saint Peter addresses church leadership navigating times of upheaval. Times of challenge. When the very foundations of everything are shaking and the very house of the Lord is rattling with the fiery wind of the Spirit. Baptizing. Purging. Healing. Transforming.

"I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it's like to be a leader, in on Christ's sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way."

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing in it all is in the humble discovery that there is a bit of monster in all of us. In you. In me.

"Don't let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, "God is trying to trip me up." God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one's way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust."

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

"So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you."

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

There is one thing we must not forget. There is another who not only emerges in the unsettled dust of life, but is ever present. Ever sustaining. Everclear. And He is the One who subdues the monsters. All the monsters. Those without. Those within.

"The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil's ways."

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

By David Ruis

(All Scripture taken from the MSG translation: 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Peter 4:7-11; 1 Peter 5:1-3; James 1:13-15; 1 Peter 5:6; 1 John 3:8)