Last Sunday, we were singing a song at church. I don’t remember which one. What I do remember is that it talked about the idea that Jesus overcomes. I had this thought then. The thought was that it’s true; Jesus overcomes. But he does it in this unique way. There needs to be a word invented for how Jesus overcomes. I settled on the word “undercome.” Jesus overcomes by undercoming.
There was a time that I thought that tai chi, or Judo were in keeping with Jesus. There was a time I thought that it’s just about using the other person’s momentum, energy, intent against them. But what Jesus does is so much more profound.
The idea that Jesus took on the sins of the world, that he took these in and transformed them is a really compelling picture of undercome. There’s also a picture of undercoming in the idea that Jesus entered Jerusalem hailed as a conquering hero, but soon his fortunes appeared to have reversed. It seemed that all was lost when he was nailed to the cross. But he turned it all around.
Undercoming is not a short cut to happiness. It’s not a way of beating others at their own game. It completely redefines the very nature of the “game.” There was a time when I wanted to use Jesus’ way for my own purposes. It was really just a spiritual gloss on being passive agressive.
The thing that I missed is sacrfice. Pain. Suffering. The object of undercoming is not dodging these. It is an embrace of them. It’s not as pretty, easy, and clean as waving a magic wand at suffering and changing it into something else before it reaches us. It’s taking the pain in. Taking the suffering in. The only place that really transformation happens is deeply within us. Undercoming is an internal process. It is an intimate thing. It is painful.
I’m afraid that maybe I’m being really obtuse and abstract. The idea is so clear to me. But the words that describe it… These are hard to come by.