Overcome, undercome

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.

Jesus Christ Crucifix
Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “Overcome, undercome”

  1. I guess put like that it sounds like you are advocating for a masochistic, and sadistic methodology… actually there may be some truth in that. It goes against the grain of conventional thought and yet if we are to be truly identified with Christ then part of that identification would include taking suffering as a joy, ie being found worthy to suffer for his namesake. Of course I could be completely missing your point 🙂


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