Monday, April 4, 2011
The Kingdom of Heaven
Balian renews his pledge of loyalty to Baldwin, but rejects his proposal on the grounds that Jerusalem is a kingdom of conscience, or it is nothing.
Frequently, we tend to perceive the world in terms of absolutes - because we know that we're right, anyone who disagrees with us must necessarily be wrong. Their ideas are dangerous, their actions are immoral and their words are blasphemous. We believe that we have clothed ourselves in the Armour of God, and we are prepared to withstand and repel the heretic and the infidel with fire and sword.
We rally behind the strongest person who agrees with our viewpoints or who promises to uphold our values. Our cherished financial institutions safeguard his country's wealth - for the people, of course, but in his name. If thugs and brigands threaten his legitimate rule, we can supply him with better weapons and military advisors. If worse comes to worst, we can send children from our own poor neighbourhoods to uphold his rule.
But do we really have the belt of truth buckled around our waist when we support the rule of tyrants? Are we wearing the breastplate of righteousness when we ignore poverty and need? When we make war on children, are our feet fitted with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace? Surely, that would mean that our shield of faith, our helmet of salvation and our sword of the Spirit offer us less defense than we might have expected.
I believe that it is possible for the Kingdom of Heaven to exist on earth, and that the ones who will live there will be people of peace and of principle like Mohandas Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. Zealots and opportunists will find nothing in it to their liking or advantage.
It could be a place of justice, equality, peace and tolerance. It could be here today, because those live within each of us.
It is a kingdom of conscience, or it is nothing.