Friday, January 22, 2010

::Beyond the boundaries::

hile I cannot be as candid as comes naturally to me, I want to offer a more sober reflection on the mess we found ourselves in this past weekend. And while I will be more sober still in a month, three months, a year-- already, there are lessons that have been learned. There is an opportunity to glorify Jesus even now, just on the other side of a little bit of suffering.

Here is what I have been awakening to:
While the teachings of Jesus are extremely difficult to live out in one sense--the sense that they are completely counter-instinctual-- they are also beautifully straight forward. Simple, even. My roiling emotion demands a complicated, drawn-out response to the hurt I have experienced. But Jesus demands only this: be filled to bursting with the insults and judgments of others. Let them pour into you until you are topped up. Take and take and take. And then?

Now, this is so alien to the human experience it's almost laughable. Part of us gets the part where we brace ourselves and take the hits. We learn this lesson early on in our Christian ABC's. Morality lesson #1: Revenge is bad. But the love part? I think we convince ourselves that just martyring ourselves--taking the abuse in silence and then ploughing on-- is love. That's not love. Love in active. It washes over bad deeds, seeking to bless the aggriever. It does not barricade against them. Love is, in fact, the only way to move beyond the hurt.

Unpacking this a little:
Say the teaching was a little more ambiguous. Say there was an allowance for us to settle into a neutral state with regards to the ones that hurt us. Now, I am the queen of the neutral zone. I get wounded by someone, and like a dog who gets zapped during obedience training, I learn to avoid the source of pain. I just don't go there. I let my eyes glide past certain people, and the smiles I offer them never reach my eyes. In this way, I don't have to "give the other cheek." If I stay far enough away, my cheek will never be within slapping distance.

However, there are no such allowances. We are left with many, many, verses in Scripture that tell us to, not only take the hurt without retaliation, but to return it with love. What does that mean? Without the specifics, I can share what this will look like in my life over the next few weeks-- should I walk in obedience to the lessons I am learning. It will be me walking with my head up into a VERY uncomfortable setting. And I will do so again, and again and again. Furthermore, I will not slip into anonymity. I will carry on with the work I have been doing, and I will pray myself into doing so cheerfully. Further still, I will be pushing against the boundaries of my own personal judgments, seeking to extend a hand where my hand has never been extended. Seeking to know and understand those who are different than me. Seeking to love their hearts as Christ does. The same Jesus that loves me, loves them fiercely and I am duty-bound to seek out the hearts he loves so tenderly.

Christendom is blessed beyond measure with the perfect example of love. We know a blameless man who took physical lashings from hate-filled hands, and yet, begged for those hands to be redeemed. Though our own trials will never compare, the example stands for eternity. It is meant to be mimicked. Had God taken our abuses towards him and responded without love, we would be standing here now without a Saviour and without a hope. Love is our life-source.

Because I am weak, I will forget. In moments of weakness I will recall the hurt and mull it over and build up resentments, but I can only live without peace and joy for so long. . . I will go running back to the way of excellence. It is a better place to dwell. It feels like home there.

Children of Light
Ephesians 4
20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.