Summary: The values, priorities, and expectations of the kingdoms of this world are completely at odds with the values, priorities, and expectations of the Kingdom of God. Conflict is inevitable.
During his last night with his disciples, before his arrest, Jesus concluded his teaching with these words: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, Paul needs only a few words to describe his personal experience of this trouble and this peace: “When we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.” (2 Corinthians 7:5-7)
The values, priorities, and expectations of the kingdoms of this world are completely at odds with the values, priorities, and expectations of the Kingdom of God. Conflict is inevitable. The more dramatically attention is drawn to the differences between the values, priorities, and expectations, the more dramatic the ensuing conflict…and the greater the miracle of the peace that passes understanding.
On September 20 of this year, a young man named Noah Riner had an opportunity to stand before a group of his peers and speak. He could have chosen to amuse, to inspire, to flatter, to educate, or to impress. He chose, instead, to share the Good News.
Noah Riner wasn’t speaking to his youth group at church. He wasn’t speaking to the local Christian Varsity group. He wasn’t speaking at a retreat center for young adults. As elected student body president, Riner was addressing the students of Dartmouth College at the annual convocation marking the beginning of the academic year.
(I learned of Noah Riner’s address and the reaction to it from a commentary by Albert Mohler, “Division at Dartmouth—A Christian Speaks His Mind”, Friday, October 07, 2005, which can be found at http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2005-10-07.)
A commentator named Albert Mohler described the event this way:
"You really are special," he told the
Dartmouth class of 2009. …
"But it isn’t enough to be special," he
continued. "It isn’t enough to be talented,
to be beautiful, to be smart. Generations
of amazing students have come before you,
and have sat in your seats. Some have been
good, some have been bad. All have been
Just a few words into his convocation
address, Riner signaled that he intended
to address the incoming students with
something more than emotionalism,
congratulations, and simplistic
affirmation. He had another issue in
…Riner recited a list of Dartmouth
graduates who had ended up as examples
of deficient character. A member of the
class of 1939 became a Soviet spy, even
as a later graduate committed murder and
yet another was arrested for sexually
assaulting a fifteen-year-old student.
"These stories demonstrate that it takes
more than a Dartmouth degree to build