It isn’t that the United Nations is some sacred body that fulfils prophecy about a new earth.
It is the church that fulfils this prophecy, by not be keeping to itself, but by going into the world and making disciples of Christ and his reign of peace.
The United Nations embodies many of the principles that the church bears witness to. It isn’t the United Nations that is indispensable, but the principles it was created to adhere to.
The essence of these principles is that we serve the good of others, and not ourselves. This is the principle of the cross, which is to transform our lives within the church, and shine through us into the world. A culture of fear, scapegoating and withdrawal is not the culture of Christ and his church.
Our nations are to imitate the church and the church is to imitate the cross. The primary principle that is then lived out in our nations is their cooperative care for each other, rather than establishing their own security at the expense of others. This is the primary change that must come, and it can only come if it is seen in the church. Our denominations don’t help to reveal this change, unless we learn to love each other, which was the call of Christ for us when he spoke of his purpose in renewing the world.
The principle that must fill our hearts is that we live for each other and not for ourselves.
This is our hope, not the United Nations. The United Nations is only a vehicle through which we might action our hope. Its hard to action that hope of we draw back in fear into ourselves and put up walls against those we are supposed to be serving. The cross is about pulling down walls, opening opportunities for getting to know others, serving and healing.
So, it isn’t the praises of the United Nations we are singing, but the praises of God, who shows us how to live towards each other by his cross. And he showed us this by his own sufferings, so if it takes us suffering to spread, then we are his children, not fools. We are heirs if we suffer for what is good. This is our guiding light in new creation, of forming new nations, not withdrawing into ourselves. The Incarnation of God in Christ is moving us in the opposite direction. God comes towards the world, ready to suffer, he doesn’t draw away from it.
The issue doesn’t come down to what we think about the United Nations, but to the attitudes we treasure as nations. Are we going to live as community, to work cooperatively to heal the weak nations, rather than consider our own commercial interests first? This is certainly a challenge. There will continue to be many nations who don’t want to live this way, including ourselves, but this is the direction we must forge.
The creation was set up to work in community. It is the principles of community that must be established first among us, or nothing else in this world is going to work. So, we don’t have to argue about the virtues of the United Nations, but we do have to stand for the central purpose of the gospel which is a call for us to serve the weak, as Christ served us.
This call must be taken up by us, our churches, and our nations. So even if we don’t like the United Nations, if we are Christians we must seek something that is better, not worse, not more selfish.
Our nations must start thinking and acting in terms of what is in the best interests for us all.
Presently, we segregate into power blocks, into alliances, and each block withstands the interests of the other block. These battles are usually carried out in a third-party nation like Syria and millions of people suffer. It is the interests of these millions that must come first.
Our power blocks must come together for the sake of these weak millions of people. These millions exist in so many weaker nations around the world today. It is a disaster that God can’t be pleased with. If our voice isn’t for these, but for our own national interests and power, then we aren’t with God.
We might not like the United Nations, but we must like God’s love for these millions. What is our plan to discipline our own self-interests, that is enshrined by the politics of each of our nations, for the good of others? We say our nations might hurt if we do this. Yes, that is true, but it’s the same in the church. We might hurt if we love our brother and sister. Christ was hurt in his love for us. The question is whether we are his followers?
The world goes by the logic of self-survival, which is why we are in this mess. God goes by the logic of self-giving, and this is the only logic that can set our creation free. Romans 8 is about this freed creation. There, Paul shows us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, which means our inability to see and act God’s way towards our neighbour. He leads us into becoming Christ’s followers, into his self-giving, if we ask for his help.
Our nations’ politics are an enshrinement of our own self-love. It’s like a new tabernacle, the holy place, where our idolatrous interests are protected. They must change. They must be geared towards helping the weak. Our nation’s politics can only change if we change.