Thursday, June 22, 2006

Christian!

The meaning of the term “Christian” is ambiguous these days; I think if you went out into the streets and interviewed people you would get all kinds of different responses. I wonder if most people who call themselves Christians would agree on their communal identity; let alone how people outside of the Christianity view us. The ironic thing about being a Christian is that we have exactly what the world needs, but we don’t market it as such. We Christians let our fellow humans see our moral superiority, our exclusivity, in some cases out wealth and political influence; all the things that they can attain on their own more easily without the help of a Savior. Seriously, who wants Jesus when he appears to give us nothing more than a cheap imitation of the things we can get on our own. If we want to be attractive, rich, influential, or respected it makes more sense not to take on the baggage of Christ’s teachings. If you have ever read the gospels you know that Jesus said things like “blessed are the poor in spirit” and “turn the other cheek.” Now how is teaching like this ever going to help you get ahead in this dog eat dog world?

That is a very good question to consider, because I think the answer you get when you seriously look at Jesus’ life and teachings is, “It’s not.” Jesus never meant for us to succeed in this world because this world is messed up. He came to start a new world, with a different set of rules; that treat everyone according to their inherent worth rather that their performance. This is what the world needs and this is what we have access to when we get to know Jesus. This is the Kingdom Jesus talked about and it is exactly what we Christians are so reluctant to let the rest of the world see.

Why are we holding out on people? I heard someone say once that what we do is what we believe. So if what we do is try to justify ourselves to the world through politics, science, wealth, whatever, than we must believe –at least in part- that justification is not found in God alone. And then if we do not introduce people to Jesus’ Kingdom, where there is healing and restoration, and true peace and love, we must not believe –at least in part- that God is not going to deliver as promised. We don not trust him because we do not know him; and if we don’t know him can we really call ourselves Christians?

I love what Thomas Merton says in The New Seeds of Contemplation about Christianity being a revolution. He says that the full truth of Christianity has been revealed in the man Jesus Christ but no one has fully understood it or lived it. So to follow Jesus is to begin a perpetual state of death and resurrection that propels us towards unity with God. We can be sure then, that once we feel like we have “got it” we most certainly have not; and that “getting it” is a place somewhere in midst of acknowledging our inability to get it.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jimmy Arcade said...

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6:48 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Arcade said...

Great blog, Dan! It's interesting to think of how many years people have had access to the stories and teachings of Jesus and yet very few people throughout history have actually understood the true meaning behind his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Yet, when you see people who have not been culturally conditioned as Americans have, such as in Korea, Africa, or China, you see people who get it and are living dangerous, joyful, adventurous, and committed lives as disciples of Jesus.

I say this not as someone who has truly grasped the full meaning of Jesus' teachings, but as someone who is in deep need of understanding and living them. I say this as someone who is spiritually impoverished, yet I know that the abundant feast is right before me and I need only to partake of it, through prayer, spiritual direction, and trust in Jesus.

6:53 AM  

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