The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
A poem by Erich Kästner
Once the guys squatted on trees, hairy and with a nasty face. Then they've been lured out of the jungle and the world asphalted and piled up to the thirtieth floor.
There they sit now, escaped from the fleas, in centrally heated rooms. There they sit now at the telephone. And there's still exactly the same tone as in those days on the trees.
You hear far. They see far away. They are in touch with the universe. They brush the teeth. You breathe modern. The earth is an educated star with a lot of water flushing.
So with the head and the mouth they have created the progress of mankind. But apart from that and in the light of day they are basically still the old monkeys (Erich Kästner)
The same dilemma described with humor that Albert Schweizer already formulated. "The doom of our culture is that it has developed much more materially than spiritually." And now I say with own words, what I read once with Albert Schweizer:
Modern man has giant legs to get around fast. Train, car, plane yes the rocket. Modern man has huge arms and yet also quite precise fingers.
From cargo helicopters to precision robots. Modern man has super-sharp eyes, with the space telescope he can see infinitely far and with the electron microscope infinitely precisely. Man has highly sensitive ears from radar reception to the bug in the telephone of the eavesdropper. We have super brains from the mainframe computer in the Pentagon to the microcomputer in the latest cell phones. This can be continued with smell and taste and touch. Everything about people has become huge. Only its heart, that has always remained the same and that is the dilemma and the catastrophe of modern mankind. Giants we have all become, but hearts we still have as small as a man since time immemorial. Like a monkey even says Erich Kästner.
The fact that this is a dilemma has been shown to us by the 20th century. It was cruelly brought before our eyes in the twentieth century. And we didn't begin much more heartily with the 21st century. Century than our ancestors 100 years before.
Now two possibilities remain:
Today I rage against the modern technology that makes us giants. True to the motto, don't give people guns, if they fought each other with fists and clubs, there would be fewer victims. Not that such arguments do not exist. Only these are senseless whining without aim and prospects of success.
No, there is no way back behind modern technology.
We remain giants. So there's only one alternative. We also need a huge heart.
And you realize: I don't mean a pacemaker, I don't mean hearts grown from embryonic stem cells with a diameter of one meter. I mean what heart stands for in our vocabulary. I mean justice and peace and reconciliation simply the good man, the heart. That must be as huge as our huge modern possibilities.
That can be compared exactly.
As it is with our huge possibilities for legs, arms, senses and mind, so is it with the heart. So let's take a closer look at our Modern Technology and how we deal with it:
1. We don't know how it works but we know exactly how to operate it – hopefully.
So for example the car makes us fast. Only a few years ago many tinkered with it themselves. But let's be honest: Do you know how your anti-theft device works, how your engine electronics work?? I for one do not. But I know exactly how to open the car, start it, drive it.
Or you have a computer. Do they know exactly how it works that a program opens when there is an arrow on the icon in the screen and you then click a button on the mouse? I do not. But I know very well how to open a program, how to use the mouse and even more.
So first of all, we don't know how it works but we know how to operate it.
2. We rely on the experts. In the driving school we will not get the many questions answered, how all this works. We simply do what the driving instructor tells us to do. We can't program the computer ourselves anymore but we click like it says in the manual. We rely on the experts.
With these two behaviors, relying on the experts and then doing what they taught us, with this we are huge, fast, strong and smart. And that's all we need to be hugely good, just, peaceful and conciliatory.
Paul writes about this
Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord."
Rather, if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink. If you do, you will gather fiery coals on his head."
He had finally discovered the manual for the great heart, the inconceivable and infinite love, and the expert who demonstrated it to us. The manual is the Bible and the expert is Jesus Christ.
He had lived what Paul had found in the Bible.
Do not repay anyone evil with evil. Be mindful of good to everyone.
Yes he did, even when he was beaten, tortured and murdered. "How is this supposed to lead to justice?", we ask. "We cannot live like this! I must resist after all!"
Are we the experts or God? With the car we rely on teachers and manufacturers, with the computer on programmers and manual but rely on God in our life and our quarrel?
But there is no other way. We can talk shop as much as we like. If we don't try it, we will be stuck with our small heart and our too small justice forever. Do they want to walk and type again?? I do not. So I don't want to go back to retaliation either but try to listen to God.
If it is possible, as much as lies in you, then have peace with all men.
Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath of God; for it is written (5. M. 32:52): "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord."
Rather, if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink. If you do, you will collect fiery coals on its head." (Spr. 25,21f)
Imagine this. Not avenge but give to eat and drink!
Yes, yes that's what aid organizations do for example in Afghanistan and Iraq.
You see, some have listened to God others not. Few have shown a big heart many then the strong hand with brand new military technology. By the way, the military operation had immediately been authorized and gobbled up 5 billion dollars, I don't know how many billions have been spent on military in these countries since then. One thing I know for sure is that the few millions that Bread for the World has been able to spend have brought about more peace.
Now how do I compare funds for military and funds for relief efforts? With good reason.
To retaliate is only meaningful if one makes satisfaction. If you do enough that a person who has been harmed can live again, have enough to live again, enough peace, enough to eat, enough own power and enough own peace. And both must be provided for and adequately. This is how to repay evil with good: To provide satisfaction so that everyone will have enough to live on.
Do not let evil overcome you, but overcome evil with good.
This is what churches do in other countries and also in their own country in prisons and not only there for failed and quarreling people. Christians do, if not always, then again and again. But that seems difficult.
Oh that we humans have such small hearts.
Paul wrote it to the Romans. Was he better than us, were the Romans better? "This is remote.", he would have said. No, he is not better and the church in Rome was at times so full of strife with the Jewish synagogue that they were expelled from the city. It is precisely because we humans are like this, for millennia, precisely because we have such small hearts, that Paul points us to the expert and his manual for our world. He had simply discovered what we have known for a long time when it comes to technology: There we sit in a car and feel safely driven by this experienced driving instructor. A friend installs a program on our computer that makes it run so smoothly. And why can they? Are they better than us?
That be far, they just have practice in following the manuals and the expert advice. And because they do it exactly as they were told and written, not always but again and again when they get into trouble, because they prefer to read up or ask again when they are uncertain, that's why it works so safely and well for them, that's why they drive quickly, work cleverly with the computer, operate their crane, fly the rocket and and and.
Yes and we, we practice driving and computing with you and then we can do it. No more.
So also Paul, daily he reads in the manual of the heart, his Bible. Every week he talks with others and with experts about what he reads and hears and talks with others about their experiences. This is the service. That is the pastoral care among Christians. Nothing more.
This is what he urged the Romans to do. They had to decide for themselves. Like you and me.
And what do you think? They want to be giants with hearts that are too small? Or do we do it the same way. Listening to the expert? It's up to us whether we want to sit on the trees or learn something new. I wish us all a big heart.