To protect us from the world, we built mighty fortresses. We choose to live in sheltered communities in the richer suburbs, have high walls with motion and vibration sensors, security guards and CCTV to protect us. We accumulate banks accounts with amounts that will be enough to see us through many lifetimes. We have doctors, physical therapists and life coach to keep us young, healthy and motivated. To maintain our emotional state of well being, we have psychotherapists and meditation masters. We numb our existential pain by mindless entertainment, drugs and alcohol. And we hide from the painful realities of life by hiding behind our middle class rationalisation and avoidance of the poorer part of town. We desensitise ourselves from the sounds bites on television and the media from the extreme poverty, suffering, injustice, diseases and violence that ‘others’ on our planet face daily. As song writer Paul Simon writes,
I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
Like the zealots on Masada, we make ourselves believe that we live on an impregnable fortress until the Roman did the impossible. They built a 900 feet high ramp to break down the wall. It is an illusion that we can be safe anywhere on earth. Recognising this Martin Luther wrote about another type of fortress.
- A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
- Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
- And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
- That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Do we trust in man and things made by man or in God who gives us all things by grace?