I don’t how we are to do it, but me must. We must unlearn the lessons we’ve learned; We must undo the doings of rationalization, of justification; We must take a long second look in the mind’s dark mirror; peer humbly in hindsight down the hall of history; We must divest in conventional wisdom and our blind reliance on it; We must--it is absolutely crucial--revisit, and consider reconsidering the truths we hold self-evident; We must look back at ourselves and ask if the principles we endorse, affirm and approve of are in the character of God. We must look to Jesus.

It is dangerous personal work. Often unclear. It is confrontational. It’s sacrificial.

I was talking with a new friend recently about all the discoveries of science, all the new information constantly surfacing for the first time regarding the history of the earth and the implications of the findings. And somewhere amidst the conversation he asked me how it made me feel. I was confused for a moment until he qualified his question: How does it feel, he asked, to be challenging the truths that your parents handed to you, that possibly even the church handed you? Isn’t that unsettling?

Socrates in court after he had been found guilty of heresy (threatening the established religion) and sedition (threatening the state) told the jury in his defense that the unexamined life was not worth living. Interesting. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians pleaded that we must examine ourselves and see whether we are in the faith; to test ourselves. Jesus: his compassionate poise; his preference for patient dialogue; his nonviolence; his acceptance and love for all people, his preference for the "Them"; Jesus always on the moral high ground--choosing goodness before ever fighting to establish his rightness; Jesus who took a beating when he didn’t deserve it; Jesus who loved those beating him--even while they were beating him; Jesus who chose to die at the hands of those who killed him--for those very people who killed him. This is Jesus.

Does it seem at all odd or contradictory that Christian principles need be defended with guns, war or policing? Does it strike you strange that Christians should put criminals to death? Killing them? Are we Christians today conflicted over our often nonchalant endorsement/employment of such methods of social sanitation? Or how about: Does it strike you Christ-like that he would seek to change others lifestyles (unbecoming as they may be) through the mandate of law, ostracisation, or punishment? Does that work? Does that sound like the Way?

Jesus’ applies a kind of irrationality to all these questions. He does. It’s unavoidable if you read him. His Way is so totally alien to mine. And it’s that very irrationality that’s become so very rational to me in the past few years. Paul follows up his previous statement asking, “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” Or it’s like he’s asking if we can see it; if we can sense these strange new realities growing within us and without fear. Realities completely foreign to our thinking. A love rationale built out of and for itself--Love--not out of self interest, societal self defense, protection, or preemption-- the preventative moralality we created for our fear. It seems strange to me that we Christians should quietly permit such things; that we uphold, endorse and legislate the laws we do, while supposing to follow Christ. If our task as Christians is to continually act more and more like Christ; if our primary aim is conformation with him--are we willing to accept the confrontation our new lives might invite? The danger?

Because if we’re reading the same Gospel, the good news has the propensity of becoming very bad news as I see so many of my things, my reasons, my ideological rationality, my social/political/economic possessions laid to the chopping block. What does a Love rationale do to my view of the criminal? What about how we punish? What happens to my reasons for going to war? What happens to my money?

What is Christ actually suggesting we do? Is He serious? Am I serious about this? And what if I am?

"So how does it feel?"

My friend was still waiting for my answer. "It feels great." I told him. And it does. It this kind of personal work, the sacrifice, and the confrontation involved with it that finally has brought real significance, meaning, responsibility and risk to Christ's message. But I suppose the Way has been this way all along.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Great post.
The pain/'negative' effects of confrontation/questioning are always worth it in the long run.