To Conserve the Mandate of Christ’s Example of Love
What is the substance of conservatism?
The word “conserve” is said to take root from the Latin word, conservare, which is a compound of the prefix com- meaning “with, together or beside”, and servare meaning to keep watch, maintain, or guard. In all the years that I have consented to bear the conservative label, I have found that keeping this root in mind helps to clarify my thinking. Because I do so, I often find myself stepping back from what I’m doing to ask” What am I seeking to guard or preserve with this action or thought?” If no answer comes easily, I find myself facing another question “Am I guarding an empty tomb?”
The latter question is associated in my mind with the description of the episode in the New Testament (Matthew 281-6) in which “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb” in which the body of Christ was laid to rest. By order of Pontius Pilate, the large stone put in place to cover the entrance to the tomb had been sealed into place, and a guard set over the entrance “lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead….’”
As the two women approached the tomb’s entrance
…an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.…And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.… But the angel said to the women ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come see the place where he lay.’”
By God, Jesus was raised from the dead. The guards emplaced by the chief priests and Pharisees stood watch over an empty tomb, themselves becoming images of death as the Lord’s messenger appeared.
Years ago I had the opportunity to visit the site in modern day Jerusalem identified as the Holy Sepulcher. I stood there, praying, until those words of the angel came back to my mind “He is not here, for he has risen…” I remember feeling momentarily ashamed. It was as if I had stumbled upon myself dishonoring God with an empty pagan ritual. But it occurred to me, as I moved along, that my prayers in that place were nothing to be ashamed of since the Kingdom of God is within me, as Christ said. So the Risen Lord was there, reigning as ever at the right hand of God. And as people gathered to remember His name, death and resurrection, He was amongst us, too, as He promised.
The name of Christ is the name of God. And wherever the people of God, truly called by His name, gather in prayerful remembrance, we are the living Body of Christ. We are, like Him, raised up by the Father upon this earth, to give testimony to the truth.(John 18:37) We who are called by His name are not, therefore, the guardians of an empty tomb. We are, with Christ, the living guardians of the true love, justice and mercy He preached, suffered, died and was raised up again to serve, preserve and perpetuate, in and for all the world.
For He was the Word that “was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.… He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” As He was the Word of Creation, He is the One who is to come when “God shall wipe away all tears… and death shall be no more. Not mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Then He will sit on the throne and say:
Behold, I make all things new…. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the End. To him that thirsts, I will give of the fountain of the water of life, freely. He that shall overcome shall possess these things. And I will be his God; and he shall be my son. But the fearful and unbelieving and the abominable and murderers and whoremongers and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
These thoughts about what, as a conservative, I seek to conserve, came to me today, as I read another iteration of the fearful screed with which, on one side or the other of the fraudulent twin Party sham, the hirelings of fear and loathing are goading American voters to abandon their sovereignty as a people. For this is what they do who fearfully acquiesce in the unbelieving, abominable, murderous, idolatrous, lying choices we are being told we have no choice but to make, one way or the other, for President of the United States.
Even people who feel no call to represent the heart, mind and will of the Living Christ ought to appreciate the threat to their safety, happiness and self-respect this mockery of choice entails. But Christians who are so called ought, especially, to feel it. Throughout most of human history, the idea of government of, by and for the people was summarily dismissed. For almost two and a half centuries, the American people have successfully delayed that summary judgment. From the beginning, they rested the case for their claim to sovereignty over themselves, as a nation, on the logic of right (justice) and rights, endowed by the Creator, and intrinsic to the nature of all human beings (unalienable).
However much the adversary seeks to muddle and confuse its significance, the logic for self-government set forth in the Declaration of Independence provides the moral substance without which the Constitution of the United States tends inevitably toward dissolution. This derogates from its first stated purpose (to “form a more perfect union”). That moral substance is literally predicated on the authority of the Creator who is variously referred to as the author of the “laws of nature and of Nature’s God”; “the Supreme judge of the word”; and “divine Providence”.
Unlike many people today, America’s Founders did not overlook the fact that the natural law, and the judgment, protection and provision required to establish good government, are all of them ultimately a function of the authority of the Creator. Many of the learned among them were familiar with Latin. So, when they heard these words they were liable to think of their Latin roots. They knew, for example, that provision refers, at its root (provide, from the Latin pro- ahead or beforehand, and videre -to see) to the capacity to see beforehand what is needed.
But in order to see, in this way, what something needs, one must know the substance, source and nature of its particular way or form of being. That is what it requires to go on existing in that form. This substantive knowledge requires, in turn, knowledge of its distinctive qualities, those which determine, as it were, the lines that supply its form, such that it stands out in the world, on its own.
This makes clear the necessary relationship between knowledge and authority. But, in reference to the Creator, there is, beyond this knowledge, a project of good will. It is made manifest in the activity of perfect and absolute freedom wherewith, all needlessly, the Creator contains and confines His infinite, absolute being so as to accommodate the existence of all manner of finite beings, who exist not in and of themselves, but wholly and entirely on account of His good will. The is the activity of the Word, “through whom all things were made, and without whom was made not anything made that was made.” This activity is what becomes of God’s love in and through the mystery of creation. Because we are His creatures, we have continually and directly experienced His love, even when we knew it not.
But Christ came to make it known. “No one ever yet saw God; the being alone begotten in the bosom of the Father, He revealed Him.” (John 1:18) Christ revealed Him in the truth to which he came to bear witness. He revealed Him in the charity by which He recalled us to life. He revealed Him in dying upon the Cross. He revealed Him in being raised from the dead. He reveals Him even now in all who are willing to accommodate His being, as He accommodates our existence. In this mutual accommodation of being and existence consists the justice of God, which was, and is, and ever will be the will of God for all those who trust in, and are entrusted to Him.
As a follower of Christ, this has to be the substance of what I conserve. It is the natural consequence of Christ’s example; of God’s goodwill toward all Creation; and of the mandate of His command of love.
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