Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest." Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
When you hear radio advertising in a language you don’t understand, you could be led to believe that the world was coming to an end. Such excitement, such urgency! But when you know the language you realise it’s only about soap powder, or foods that make you lose weight. It is untruthful, it’s designed to lead you astray. It devalues language and human feeling. There are real urgencies and tragedies and wonders in the world, but the language in which they might be described has been used up by the advertising industry. The house is on fire and there are people everywhere shouting, “This way! This way!” as they direct us into brush-closets or attics. It’s not that we have no shepherds to direct us; it’s that we have millions of them who don’t care what happens to us.
We are at the mercy of the advertisers when we believe that fulfilment is not to be had in the present but in the future. They exploit our dissatisfaction with life as it is. The promise they hold out to us – that we can be fulfilled in the future – is a false promise. That's how they can continue year after year, generation after generation. No one was ever fulfilled in the future; if we refuse to live in the present, we are refusing to live, and no product will ever remedy that.
We are “harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” What is surprising, when you think about it, is that these words were first used to describe a tiny 1st-century population, hardly more than a tribe. If they were to see the confusion we are in today!
Where does hope lie? It’s intriguing to think that the change we see in time does not go all the way down. What is really intriguing is what lies below that. If we have glimpses of that we have glimpses into the heart of humanity – and into the heart of God, which is called the Kingdom of God
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