I’ve been thinking
You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as regularly. This is mainly because I haven’t had either the actual or emotional space to sit down at my computer to write something remotely meaningful.
This blog, though is about reflections on my faith journey, and this period of busyness is part of my journey.
The past weeks have been both very stimulating and very challenging.
I think I am learning more about God and people almost every day.
I know that one of my challenges is that I like to try to work out “the answer” to the challenges of life, rather than live in the messiness of now.
I have found Eugene Peterson’s “The Jesus Way” very helpful in this regard and there is a bit of it that has been in my head for the last couple of weeks that I thought I would share with you. What he has to say is a radical wake-up call for those of us who live in a settled view of what our faith is actually about, for those of us who live a “comfortable” life.
….the way of the servant has rarely, maybe never, been a well-travelled way in the Christian community.
This sacrificial-suffering servant way of dealing with what is wrong in people, with what is wrong in the world, is so different from the ways to which our culture accustoms us. The standard operating procedures practised outside the orbit of Scripture and Jesus attempt to get rid of, or at least minimize, whatever is wrong with the world, primarily by means of teaching and making: teach people what is right, or make them do what is right. The professor and the police officer represent these two ways , education and law enforcement. We send people to school to teach them to live rightly and responsibly; if that doesn’t work we make them do it through a system of rewards and punishments, even by means of locking them up in a cell.
Neither way seems to make much difference. The way of teaching as given form in schools and universities is not flourishingly successful. Scoundrels and betrayers, thieves and cheats, suicides and abusers, flourish in the best of professions and businesses. As literacy abounds, sin does much more abound. Neither does the way of coercion as given form in prisons seem to make much difference. We remove a small percentage of wrongdoers from the streets for a time, but even then our prison population seems at times to rival our school attendance. We distribute guns and bombs to any and all who agree to use them to serve “God and country” and proceed to threaten or kill any who “disturb the peace” whether at home or abroad. None of it seems to make much of a dent in diminishing the sheer quantity of wrong.
Later in the chapter he says:
Salvation is not an escape from what is wrong but a deep reconciling embrace of all that is wrong.
This is a radical shift from condemning sin and sinners – an ugly business at best. We no longer stand around as amused or disapproving spectators of the sins or troubles of others but become fellow sufferers and participants in the sacrificial life of Jesus as he takes the sins of our children, the sins of our presidents, the sins of our pastors, the sins of our friends, our sins – names in the newspaper, men and women in the neighbourhood.
I think I am on a journey to come to terms with just how radical Jesus is. He calls me beyond my “normal” to being an agent of grace in a messy world, and at the same time reminds me just how much I need that grace myself.
As we prepare for the Christmas season, a manger in a smelly stable is a stark reminder that God doesn’t play by the world’s rules. He brings salvation through weakness and not through strength.