Searching for a Savior: Messiahs, Antichrists, and the Hope for Redemption
We all know the world appears to be in need of a savior in this time period. This being the case, it is important that our hope does not lead us astray. As global problems become more complex and widespread, the desire for a global savior and redemption increases. If you think the world needs a savior, do not lose heart: I have some good news for you.
On Sept. 14, NPR featured a blog post written by Frank James equating Pres. Obama's request that "if you love me, you got to help me pass this bill" to Jesus Christ's charge to his disciples in John 21:15, "Feed my lambs". In what appeared to be a desperate request for supporters to urge Congress to move forward with the president's jobs plan, Pres. Obama seemed to be speaking from his heart in desiring that supporters take action to help him.
Pres. Obama's charge may have touched the deepest depths of the human spirit for some, but to compare "feed my lambs" with "you got to help me pass this bill"? It could just be me, but it sounds like a bit of a stretch. Though Pres. Obama's emotional plea may be desperate to some and inspirational to others, I personally feel that likening an Obama speech to scripture is a bit over the top.
Nevertheless, the view of Obama being "the one" reflects a sort of messianic hope that has been dashed for many over the past few years. People cheered as Oprah Winfrey proclaimed that Obama "is the one" long ago. To say the least, the identification of Obama as a sort of messianic savior has not proven to be a worthwhile concept. Many who invested their hearts and minds into the idea of Obama as a messianic figure have found their investment to be wanting. To have messianic hopes is one thing, but to have messianic expectations is something different altogether. Many had great hopes for the Obama presidency, and in a time when American society feels a sense of malaise in the midst of a global financial crisis, it can be difficult to retain hope in these turbulent and troubling times.
This being the case, perhaps it is improper for us to impose messianic hopes on world leaders. World leaders are only human after all, and let's face it, humans have a history. In terms of messianism and Obama, it is interesting to note that while some may have viewed Obama as a messiah, others have pondered whether he is the Antichrist. It's interesting to think that the same figure can be a messianic savior for one and an antichrist for another. Nonetheless, between the messiah and the antichrist life in America goes on and things look like they are getting worse.
Do We Really Need a Messiah?
Does the world even need a messiah? Many world religions today are looking for some sort of messianic leader to come. Christians await the Rapture, Tribulation, and the Second Coming. Jews await the Messiah or the Messianic Age. Muslims await the coming of the Mahdi. Buddhists await the Maitreya. With all these differing perspectives waiting in hopeful anticipation, one has to wonder how God could ever make all of them happy.
While the world is reeling from earthquakes, wars, and other various calamities, wishing for a messiah can be an easy way out -- a quick fix for all the world's trouble. And who among us would not want to live in paradise? As Mayor Bloomberg predicted on Friday that there would be riots in the streets if the economy does not improve, I am sure many end-times analysts interpreted this as a foreshadowing of a great tribulation in the US.
Mayor Bloomberg cited joblessness of youths as one of the contributing factors to possible societal unrest. Interestingly enough, it has been suggested by some Jewish scholars that the Messiah will come in a generation that loses hope or in a generation where children are totally disrespectful towards their parents and elders.
Our present generation would appear to nearly be there unfortunately. Given the prospects of world war, the interminability of international terrorism, overpopulation, irreligion, moral depravity on a global scale, a water crisis, global financial meltdown, and mass weariness, it would be easy to classify our generation as one that has lost hope.
In a state of Biblical proportions, the Middle East appears to be reaching a boiling point. As Palestine is on the verge of requesting full UN membership, the eyes of the world are on Jerusalem. Unfortunately, an area of the planet that is the foundation of three of the world's major religions that could have been a region of peace and solidarity of humanity's faithful appears to have been turned into a battleground of apocalyptic proportions. Where religion could have brought humanity together, for some reason it appears to have driven humanity apart to the point of self-destruction. Looking forward, owing to demographic changes in the Middle East, it is difficult to see how things will play out.
In taking into account the world's current problems, the past 6,000 years on this planet, and the fact that it looks as if the sky is falling upon us all, if not today in this time period, when has the entire globe ever needed a messiah more? When before has the entire planet been calling out for a redeemer? Given the world's problems, yes, we need a messiah -- the sooner the better.
You Want a Messiah?
What is difficult for me to understand is how people can cry out for a messianic savior today when we have very powerful individuals on this planet who could be acting in the spirit of a messiah for the betterment of mankind. The sort of individuals who come to mind for me are people like Pres. Obama, Bill Gates, and George Soros. I understand that these sorts of people are not divine and I am surely not asking them to build the Third Temple or turn water into wine or anything, but I cannot help but feel that they could be doing a lot more to make the world a better place. If they could not mandate peace between individuals and nations, perhaps they could at least use their power, money, and influence to get them to the discussion table. And who knows, perhaps one day these individuals will work to accomplish something truly great and beneficial that changes the course of humanity. Individuals like Obama, Gates, and Soros could be helping humanity grow up and come to terms with itself. In the end, that is really what humanity needs -- to grow up and come to terms with itself.
It was once written that, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48) Now, I can understand that money changes people, but had I billions upon billions of dollars, I would hope that I would use my immense power and influence to fundamentally change the world for the better. Not on a political or ideological basis, but a metaphysical and philosophical one.
And I understand that individuals like Bill Gates, George Soros, and Warren Buffett donate millions of dollars to various causes, but I am not talking about donating money; I am talking about bringing about a global awakening regarding the human journey and the destiny of humanity. I am speaking of making the world a better place for all without deceit, without power games, and without tremendous human suffering. One of my all-time favorite science fiction authors Arthur C. Clarke once said, "It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God - but to create him." Though today this may sound like a sci-fi fantasy, heaven only knows what the future holds for human technology, the human journey, and the destiny of mankind.
We take for granted that individuals like Obama or Soros could be messiahs. We are quick to chastise those who impose on them messianic expectations, but we have to appreciate the fact that if there is to come a savior, (aside from extraterrestrial hopes) he or she will be human. A good part of the problem goes back to the fact that some are quick to label one man's messiah a devil and vice-versa. It is as if one man's messiah is always another man's antichrist. Even individuals like Obama and Soros have been spoken of in terms of being antichrists. Even so, one can always change his ways.
In this way, it makes me forlorn to read stories about Pres. Obama desperately asking his supporters to help him pass some jobs bill or George Soros scheming to bring down a currency or having a dramatic romantic fallout with a girl who is much, much younger than him. Even with an individual like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is it absolutely necessary that he perpetually cheat on his wife? If so, then why doesn't he just divorce her? The world is becoming more and more disgusting and dysfunctional every day. Where wealthy and powerful individuals like Strauss-Kahn and Soros have been given much and could be truly acting in the spirit of the Messiah in their own ways to better the world, I fear they are falling horribly short.
I do not mean to judge on individuals' personal lives, I am not the "formidable Judge", but to say the least, Obama and Soros do not appear to be acting as messiahs or saviors for the planet right now. And this is something that should sadden all of us. (Okay, so perhaps the wealthy and the powerful cannot build the Third Temple right now, but would it really break the bank to at least put forward a down payment?) I'm not saying that the wealthy and powerful should necessarily be held to a higher ethical standard than the rest of us, but from whom much has been given, much will be expected.
Hopefully one day if a Messiah should come to save the world, perhaps he will unite us to the point that we are not divided and weary living on a hopeless rock hurling through space. And in the alternative, if there is to be no Messiah coming in the future, then we individually should do our part on a daily basis to bring the Messiah into existence on our own, i.e. let us act in the spirit of truth, righteousness, and justice in our daily lives; let us work to be saviors for others and to make the world a better place in patience, kindness, humility, respect, and honesty. I'm not saying that we should try walking on water or moving to Jerusalem, but while God waits to send the world a messiah, we should be acting in the place of the messiah in the meantime in our daily lives. If destiny cannot afford us a Messiah, then we would do well to bring him into being ourselves.
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