Yesterday, I blogged about how we like to pretend that situations are win-win, like they are easy compromises when in fact they are difficult and actually do create winners and losers. Today’s sermon at Fellowship church, given, of course, by Marty, helped to clarify my thinking in this direction and also to spur it off in a few other direction.
The most direct repurcussion to what I posted yesterday: Marty was preaching on some really tough words of Jesus. He said that people try to soft pedal these words, chalk it up to cultural differences, translation errors, etc. I don’t think I’m putting words in Marty’s mouth to say that I think he’s right in some healthy skepticism at these attempts at explaining the hard stuff away.
It occurs to me, in fact, that this is another way of trying to have our cake and eat it too. We have our cake by saying I accept the whole of The Bible. We eat it to by saying that when it’s hard to swallow parts we can just rationalize and explain the hardness away.
There’s actually something really reassuring about the fact that this stuff is not easy. The reassuring part is this: we could reasonably, rationalized be accused of making up a faith that was easy, that confirmed the perceptions that we had before we allowed ourselves to be changed by the scripture.
The hard truth might not be fun. But the very fact that it is hard actually helps to confirm the truth of it. The very fact that we are trying to conform ourselves to the words, rather than the other way around, this implies that we are behaving obediently. In Brian McLaren’s words, we are allowing the scripture to read us.
If I struggle with Jesus words, I am inevitably lead to question of where MY problems are. If I begin with the assumption that the bible is true, and I really wrestle with the fact that Jesus is supposed to be more important than my biological family, I can turn my view on myself. I can begin to see that there is idolatry in my attitude. I was attempting to hold my family above the creator of the universe. On the other hand, if I begin with the assumption that my world view is correct, then I will work hard at finding ways to make scripture not mean what it seems to mean.
This is not to say that we should instantly simply assume that Jesus’ words should always be taken in the “hardest” sense possible. He did, after all, promise that his yolk was light and easy. What I’m getting at here is that reasonable understanding is huge, but we have to be careful not to delude ourselves into taking the very easiest way out.
The fact that Jesus came with a sword to set us against those in our biological family is hard. I think we should really hold onto this difficulty. We should not try to escape the reality that people we love very much might end up our enemies.
But we should hold this reality next to the reality of what Jesus told us to do with our enemies. He told us to love them.
Holding these truths next to each other is harder than just taking one and running with it. This isn’t a win-win, really. This isn’t letting one of Jesus statements counter act another statement so that they cancel each other out like matter and anti-matter in a cheesy science fiction novel.
This is letting his words meaning penetrate in a real way. As we wrestle with Jesus meaning it determines the “wrestling moves” we use. In this case, it leads to me the following questions:
#1) Does it look the same to love an “enemy” and love an “ally”?
#2) How do we go about living our every day lives with people who are “enemies”; how do we strike the balance between loving them and recognizing there is something in them which is opposed to what we are supposed to be doing and thinking and feeling?
Looking foreward to answers,