The new world order

Scriptures: Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Mark 16:1-8

First let me say what a joy it is to see so much new life here in the pews today, all of the families that are here in their fulness, and how wonderful it would be for that to be every Sunday. We have a newness of life that comes through Jesus Christ.

There was an old order of things, and in that old order of things, as Paul noted, “since by man came death.” Adam and Eve had fallen. Creation had fallen. And God had made a covenant with His people, a covenant which was fulfilled, as we saw last week, in Palm Sunday through the Holy Week, the Passion and up through Jesus’ death on the cross.

The covenant that was completed with God’s people. And at that time, then, a new thing began, a new thing that started with the resurrection. There was, as you might say, a new world order.

Now, the idea of a new world order is not new. It’s been a conspiracy theory for quite a while. Depending on what web pages and books and things you read, it lasted anywhere from back in the Pharaoh’s time to more modern settings.

Even wiki has a page on it. It says the conspiracy theory term “the new world order” refers to the emergence of a totalitarian world government. A common theme in conspiracy theories about a new world order is that a secret power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government which will replace sovereign nation-states.

Now, you can see signs of this idea on both sides of the political spectrum. On the right – the very, very far right, you have folks that espouse political conspiracy. You even have fundamentalist Christians like Pat Robertson, the American televangelist, who in 1991 had a best-selling book called The New World Order, and he had his conspiracy theories on that.

On the left, you get people who talk about needing a new world order, a global government and a new way of communicating with one another and living together.

They can both have their ideas, but in the end, they’re both wrong. You see, the new world order started about two thousand years ago. The new world order started with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Until that time, death ruled in the world. The Prince of Lies was the prince of this world. Satan was the one who had the final say in so many things – although allowed by God, because God is sovereign.

They had a world government. Rome was it. They ruled the world, pretty much, and they ruled it in a very totalitarian fashion. With armies, rather than ideology. But you didn’t cross them. In fact, when Israel did finally, too many times, they obliterated Jerusalem. They left no stone against another stone, and salted the ground so that nothing would grow there for generations.

But even in that old world order, something new had come. God had fulfilled His covenant. God had brought about salvation of His people, and there was a new life beginning, within the church. There was a new idea of a kingdom, a spiritual kingdom not of this world, a kingdom of God.

There was a new idea for a way to live, a way that honored God. It was a new world order. In this kingdom, it wasn’t like any other kingdom that we had had in the past. You see, in this kingdom, you couldn’t be born into it. You had to be adopted into it. You were adopted by faith in Jesus Christ, sealed in your baptism, and you were made a citizen of this kingdom, solely by the love of God the Father, the one who adopted you.

You became a child of God, and you had certain privileges, but you also had certain responsibilities. Like the firstborn sons, you needed to live a life that showed you were a citizen of this new world order.

There is still the old world order going on, and it is superimposed, and that’s what causes much of the conflict in our lives today. N. T. Wright, author and Bible scholar, former bishop of Durham in the Church of England, in his book Simply Jesus says “The old creation lived by pride and retribution. I stand up for myself. If someone gets in my way, I try to get even. We’ve been there, done that, and got the scars to prove it.”

Now, tell me truly, how many of you feel that’s probably the way the world still works these days? [Sees few hands.] You all are much more optimistic than I am.

Wright continues: “Now there’s a completely different way to live. A way of love and reconciliation and healing and hope. It’s a way nobody has tried before, a way that is as unthinkable to most human beings and societies as, well, the Resurrection itself. And that’s the point. Welcome to Jesus’ new world order.”

We are to live a different kind of life. A life where everything has been turned upside down. All the things and expectations that were there in the old world order had been inverted. For all the differences among the kingdoms of this world – and some are far better to live in that others, they generally share some basic assumptions about power and success.

Whether it be a meritocracy or an aristocracy, it doesn’t matter. There’s a saying that whoever has the gold rules. Some people say that’s the “golden rule.” Those with power execute it.

Jesus’ new world order turns those assumptions on their head. In this new world, you lose your life to save it. You lead by serving. And you give generously, whether or not you receive in return. Everything is upside down. You’re not out for yourself. Because, you see, you’ve already been taken care of in Jesus Christ. You’re out to help others.

And you may have to lose your life to save it. You know, you look out in the world today, and I know Easter’s all bright and white and life-filled, but there is a lot of pain going on right now, a lot of death for Christians.

It’s in the news constantly, of people in other countries who have been dying and have been killed. And it’s a terrible thing, because they’re killed for their faith. They’re killed because they believe in this new world order, and the old world doesn’t want that to come about.

And don’t think that it doesn’t occur here in the U.S. We suffer persecution here of various types, and there have been people who have died, in the recent past, for their faith. It seems recent to me, anyway. Columbine. One of the big stories that came out of that was about one of the girls, who was in the library, and the gunman asked, “Do you believe in God?” She said, “Yes,” and he shot and killed her.

People gave their lives for their faith, to save it. People who lead by serving. People who give generously, whether or not they receive in return. As members of the kingdom of God, as citizens of the kingdom of God, we are supposed to be people who live a life that is inverted and different from the world around us. We show people what it looks like, to have a real kingdom, what it’s supposed to look like.

In that day that Isaiah promised, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, when there is no more pain, there is no more mourning, there is no more weeping, there is no more sickness.

Now that hasn’t come to full fruition yet, and won’t until Christ comes again. But it started on that first Resurrection Day, and those who knew Jesus gained a new lease on life. They gained a new source of joy that could not be taken away. They gained a new hope that would never be able to be stolen from them.

As citizens of the kingdom, we need to show our faith. We need to follow the rules that Jesus said. The first one is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” We do that as we come to church, as we worship, as we make God the priority in our lives.

And we have such busy lives. But we need to make God a priority. We need to make His worship a priority. We need to make His people here a priority, because we’re one family, one body. In this kingdom, we show our dedication and faith in God, that we are citizens, adopted by God, as we live out our lives in this manner, honoring God.

The second part of our living out our faith is to do the other commandment Jesus gave, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. You could point to the Old Testament and its commandments and say, well, if you do the last six [of the ten] commandments, then you’re pretty well living out that life of faith.

That’s true, but I think it goes well beyond that. It involves sacrifice. It involves loving one another sacrificially. Jesus said, “The world says to love your friends and hate your enemies, but I tell you, love your friends and pray for your enemies and bless them.”

Everything is inverted, as we live out our faith, as we show what it means to live in the new world order. It started on that Resurrection Sunday, that Lord’s Day. And I’ll tell you what – it scared the women. That’s why, in Mark, it finishes there.

That wasn’t mentioned by the liturgist, but while some Bibles have some verses that come after that, scholars agree that they were added a couple of centuries later. None of the earlier manuscripts go beyond verse 8. There’s probably a good reason for that. Mark was writing like a reporter. And the women went away in fear.

There’s a very unfinished feel about the Gospel. That’s because it isn’t done. This isn’t like a book you can read and then say, “Oh, that was a great ending,” and then just put it away. This is a life that has been changed, as Christ was glorified. And we have the awesome responsibility of sharing that good news.

Now, there’s a lot of trial and struggle in this life, in the new world order. But let me tell you, I would think that people who belong to the new world order, people who have truly accepted Christ as Savior, know who God is, who know their future, would be excited about living it out, would be excited about this new world order.

After all, let’s face it. No matter how politically correct we are, everybody likes to win. Everybody likes to win. How many of you have had kids or coached kids in these games, like in a soccer league or stuff like that where they don’t keep score? Because that way nobody wins and nobody loses? Let me tell you, from coaching three years: [whispers] they keep score. They know who wins.

We won! Christ won the victory over the grave! “Death, where is thy sting?” We know the assurance of our future, an eternal future with God. This should be exciting to people, something you want to share with others, because that will get them excited too.

[Child appears upset.] I’m sorry, I got too excited for you. I can’t help it. It’s exciting to be a citizen in this new world order. It’s exciting to be a child of God. To know that you have the victory, to know that you have a future, to know that you have a hope, no matter how dark things may get.

So my challenge to you, on this Easter Day, as we go forth from this place, and maybe you have family dinners, maybe you go out to a restaurant and eat an Easter dinner, maybe you go home and eat your candy that you got… You know, I like those Starburst jelly beans. [To his wife] Did you get me any jelly beans this year? [She shakes her head] Oh man… I shouldn’t have the sugar anyway.

No matter what you do, as you go forth from this place, you need to go in that enthusiasm and joy of the victory that has been gained in Jesus Christ and the Resurrection. And you should share that with your family and friends. It should change your very demeanor.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have times when we’re unhappy. It doesn’t mean we don’t have times when we get angry. We do all those things – we’re human. But we always have an anchor that we can hold onto, a fountain that comes bubbling up and should burst forth occasionally.

Then, as we move out of Sunday, maybe, just maybe, you should make Monday Easter. And Tuesday, Easter. And Wednesday, Easter. And so on, each day of your life. No, you don’t need candy every day of your life, it might be nice, but you don’t need candy every day of your life.

What you do need is to live that resurrection, live in the knowledge of that resurrection, celebrate that resurrection every single day of your life, no matter where you are and who you’re with. And I promise you that if you do that, you will change lives for the better. And you will give glory to God in heaven above, and He will be pleased.

Friends, our Book of Confession says, in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, question #1, “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” That means living in the new world order. We have a new purpose. We have a new place. We have a new being. We are to glorify God.

Take the resurrection into your hearts today. Take it and hold onto it there, and then live it out. Live it out, with everyone you meet. You will be living this new world order. You will be living a life that glorifies God and gives Him honor.

And someday, there will be praise, and you will hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” and you’ll be singing with joy in that land that has no sickness, no pain, no tears. Just praise for God in heaven above. That will be a wonderful, wonderful day.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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