Not Much Has Changed Since the Ascension

Luke tells us that at the Ascension, the disciples were still thinking in terms of Jesus doing some Way Cool Dramatic Political Thingie or Other to show the dopes who hadn’t believed what for:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8* But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” 9* And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

“Restoring the kingdom to Israel” means here “Give us the political power to go back to Jerusalem and kick some Temple Elite and Roman booty.  Show those jerks who put you to death (and made us look like craven cowards) who is boss.”  Jesus declines to gratify this vision of salvation by politics and power plays and instead tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit is how the job will get done.  He then ascends into heaven, leaving them standing there doing nothing and, presumably, still hoping that some Way Cool Political Power Play will save them from having to be disciples and evangelists–perhaps miraculous sky-writing that reads, “Hey Pilate and Caiaphas!  You are in *huge* trouble.  Better make nice with my apostles or I will give you a *serious* beating!”

But nothing.  Jesus’ silence after the Ascension is very loud.  The kingdom will not be established by something cool and dramatic that will force all those hostile unbelievers to believe.  It will be established by the power of the Holy Spirit and through personal encounter and prayer and boring, humdrum one-on-one conversion and discipleship.

Fast forward to today and the Gosnell verdict.  One of my readers writes:

I’m seeing a lot of “Finally!  People will have to respond to this!  They’ll have to face the illogic of saying it’s okay to kill the baby in one place but not 6 inches away!” which I think is delusional.  People don’t have to respond to this, any more than they had to respond to the most recent school shooting which they’ve already forgotten about.  Those who didn’t care about abortion before won’t care about it now, and those who thought it should be legal before will say “He was an outlier” and satisfy themselves that he’s been dealt with and there’s nothing more to see.  There’s no “finally” here.  This will make no long-term difference, any more than the next mass shooting will make any more difference than the last one.

He is, sadly, quite right.  The Gosnell verdict is a huge deal for prolifers.  It’s not that big a deal for pro-aborts because they know the media has suppressed the story and that most Americans don’t think about and don’t *want* to think about such things.  A little cleanup on aisle 5 and things will be back the way they were–apart from conversion of the heart.  Prolifers deeply want to believe that some dramatic coup–a Gosnell verdict or a Live Action expose–will dramatically change the game, as in a Frank Capra movie.  But the reality is that this battle has to be fought one heart and mind at a time with plodding persistance.  Jesus will no more “restore the kingdom to Israel” by theatrics and power plays today than he did on Ascension Thursday.  We cannot save ourselves from the demands of discipleship by hoping that a superhero or dramatic event will cause a mass conversion now any more than the disciples could then.  Jesus won’t let us off that easy.

  • Ridge_Runner

    Little by little, the good news diffuses. It helps to periodically review the testimonies of the “great cloud of witnesses” that encompass us in order to build our endurance for the race (Hebrews 12), especially since it’s been developing for several millenia now and we have increasing access to all of the testimony that has survived to the present. A recent look worth checking out is this article in the May-June issue of Touchstone, a kind of book review:

    Into All the World – Testing John Loftus’s “Outsider Test for Faith” Shows Why There Are Billions of Christians Today
    by David Marshall

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.fuentes.92 Rebecca Fuentes

    I think it has made a difference for certain individuals–especially those who are in the wobbly “personally opposed, but–” category.
    Also, I’m pretty sure that Pentecost had something to do with the Apostles’ change of view.

  • Barfly_Kokhba

    I agree that nothing is going to change because of this. The reasoning given by one of the jurors for the verdict was vacuous if not specious. It seems that he only got convicted because his gruesomeness became too obvious even for Philly lowlifes.

    I take issue with your reader’s false comparisons between this case and “the latest school shooting that everyone has forgotten about.” It’s a false comparison because you’re comparing two identical things. What Adam Lanza did and what Gosnell did are almost indistinguishable on a practical level, and exactly the same on a moral level. They both committed mass, cold-blooded murder of innocent children.

    And who is the “we” who have forgotten any of the school shootings? I send my children to school every day and have most certainly not forgotten. Perhaps–and forgive my hypersensitivity, please–what the reader means to imply is that we have “forgotten” because there has still not yet been any mass confiscation of firearms from the citizenry, or any sweeping new laws enacted in response to random tragedy?

    Again, please forgive my hypersensitivity, but that line struck me as a particularly disingenuous way to make a point. It seems like a trojan horse statement for some sort of “bi-partisan,” left/right false equivalency that does not exist for this issue.

  • KM

    “Saturday Night Live” had a Tarantino-esque spoof of Jesus a month ago. It was called “Djesus Uncrossed” and depicted Jesus taking bloody violent revenge against those who had killed him. Although it was offensive dark pop-culture humor, it held a bit of uncomfortable truth because there does exist a strain of modern Christianity that wishes Jesus would come back this instant and pass Old-Testament-style judgment on the world. This spoof actually made me think about my own conception of God, mercy, love and justice. It made me consider that, if I want to root out hate and injustice in the world, change begins with my own humbled heart.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Maybe it is up to us to make it a big deal. I must admit, I’ve got the fantasy of renting one of the townhouses with line of sight to my local Planned Parenthood clinic, getting a 3000 lumen projector (they are coming down in price) and make a slideshow from the Gosnell trial to project on the building from over 1000′ away, playing 24 hours a day.

    Don’t have the funds though. Maybe someday.


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