Many religious traditions espouse the notion of the Messiah, a person who will be sent to redeem the world from sin and suffering.
In Judaism, the Hebrew Bible doesn’t really mention the idea of a personal Messiah who will end evil and usher in an age of peace. But the idea became popular as a result of rabbinic teachings, after the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. It is understandable that in the wake of the Temple’s destruction, and the scattering of the Jewish people, the notion of a personal savor was a source of solace for a battered and beleaguered people.
Christianity, more than any other religion, has celebrated the idea of a Messiah, and portrayed Jesus as sharing in God’s divinity. Jesus is revered as the bearer of God’s grace, as a sacrificial lamb whose death erased original sin and saved humanity, as a spiritual being who bridges the gap between God and humankind, and who tells humankind that it is loved and saved. Especially in the Book of Revelation, Christianity speaks of the End of Days, and the battle of Armageddon between good and evil, after which the world will experience a Second Coming of the Messiah, and a reign of peace for 1000 years.
In Islam, the Qur’an does not mention a Messiah, but he crept into Islamic tradition as al-Mahdi, the divinely guided one. He will bring peace and justice, restore the true religion, and usher in a golden age that will last seven to nine years before the end of the world. The Shi’ites in particular believe that the Twelfth Imam will be al-Mahdi, who will herald the coming of the golden age and the Last Day.
I, for one, without intending any disrespect, prefer to believe that there will be no Messiah coming; that we, in effect, are the Messiah who can usher in the golden age, if we only choose to make it so. I offer a simple common sense principle for your kind consideration: If you know something to be true, then believe in it. If you don’t know something to be true, then ask yourself, “Is this thing worth believing in?” If the answer is yes, believe in it. If the answer is no, then let it go.
For me, the idea of a Messiah coming here to make thing right doesn’t seem to coincide with current realities on the ground. And waiting for the Messiah to come, can make a dangerous world even more dangerous. It makes more sense, and is less risky, to assume that making things right is up to us. If we’ve messed things up, doesn’t it make more sense that it is up to us to undo what we’ve done, and to bring a semblance of order to this good earth?
Suppose I’m wrong. It could happen. Suppose the Messiah will eventually make his presence known. Well, if we assume that it is up to us to make things better, and if we do just that, then his coming will be like the icing on the cake. He will come only to find that we beat him to the punch by taking things into our own hands, and making things better. If, however, he never comes, then we would have still made the world better, relying on our own redemptive powers, instead of waiting for things to come.
You see, that’s how common sense works. It covers you coming and going. Any way you turn, it’s right there, ready to guide your way along the path of life, like a compass you carry with you, the universal moral compass of common sense.
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