Saturday, May 5, 2012

You will have me


You shall have no other gods before me.
Ex. 20:3


Love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deut. 6:8


"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 
 Matt. 16:20


So this morning I was finally able to go to breakfast with some of the guys from Living Waters.  Normally we get together every Friday.  However, due to my teaching job I have not been able to attend.  Even thought I pulled a long one yesterday, working two jobs among other tasks, I made myself go.

Boy, did I need that.

One of the topics on hand was my frustration with the stuff I see going on in the lives & behavior of the students I work with. (I'm good at hogging the conversation.  So I did.) We talked a lot about how each of us would handle given situations, what the solutions might be, etc.  Most of them were perfectly logical.

An example would be that certain individuals simply need to be sacrificed in one way or another for the good of the majority.  Get rid of them.  It's for the greater good.

Pastor Scott pointed out that something similar had been said by Caiaphas, a high priest, when speaking of Jesus; "You do not realize that that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." (John 11:49)


The fact of the matter is that from an earthly point of view, there really are some easy, practical and incredibly brutal methods of dealing with failure.  If we enacted them we would have a much more efficient society...with a considerably smaller population.

Politicians, pundits, and regular people all come up with catch phrases, slogans and seemingly wise remedies.  In many respects, they probably work very well in the short run.  Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and now North Korea, all had societies that were very well ordered.  They work great...so long as you are on the top.

Personally, everyone should be very happy that I am not an all-powerful dictator.  I am fairly convinced that I could create order out of chaos.  I really think I could.  I could make it work.  But there might be a rather heavy price to pay for many who do not line up.

I, I, I.

You, you, you.

We.

But is that what the kingdom looks like?


The truth is that I really have very few, if any, answers to the problems of this school or this world.  Sure, I guess I have a few.  But most of the time, the best I can come up with are short-term band aids.  And as I get older I am realizing more & more that that is exactly how it is supposed to be in the kingdom.

Maybe the very thing we need is a desperate dependance on Christ.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Perhaps there should be no other answer. 


____________________

A while back I read a book by the N. Irish philosopher, Peter Rollins, titled "Insurrection: To believe is human: to doubt, divine."  One of the points of the book is about how we are to engage in the frustration of dealing with a God who calls us to very deep & painful experiences as a way of identifying with him.  He made a point that I think applies to my frustration...and it got me spinning.

"It is easy for us to take the experience of God's absence as a rejection of God's presence...but a properly Christological reflection should lead us to see the felt experience of God's absence as the fundamental way of entering into the presence of God...in Christianity when one is crushed by a deep, existential loss of certainty, one finds oneself in Christ."


Like I said, the truth is that I really have very few, if any, answers to the problems of this school or this world.  Sure, I guess I have a few.  But most of the time, the best I can come up with are short-term band aids.  And as much as it leaves my mouth empty because I have no handy catch-phrase, this really is exactly how it is supposed to be in the kingdom.  Simply a painfully awkward and frustrating dependance on Jesus in which we sit in silence a good deal of the time.

____________________


According to the story of the Fall of Humanity in the third creation tale, I am always trying to be God.  I want to have all of the answers.  I do.  We do!  We want to be able to fix things.  We want to have remedies for problems that we see.  We understand that things are not as they should be, and so we are always trying to correct every problem, wether real or percieved.

The impulse might be correct in most respects, but there is also a problem buried in it.  We always seem to try and fix these problems on our own.  We might say that we are trying to do the will of God from time to time, but I am really not sure if we mean that.  I think that most of the time we are simply doing it on our own with a little bit of lip service given to Christ.

So what would happen if God gave us a bunch of problems with no human answer available?



What would it be like to be given a situation in which there was no answer at all, 
nothing to be said or done, and no remedy seen?  
What would be left for you?  
What would you still have to lean on or cling to?

____________________

In Ezekiel 24, YHWH informs his prophet that he was about to take his wife from him.  In other words, God was going to kill her.   If that were not harsh enough, God forbids Ezekiel from mourning in any way.  "Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes.  Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.  Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead."

God was making a point to the people through Ezekiel about the loss of their kingdom, temple and freedom.  Everything they had placed their lives, joys, dependence and certainties upon was gone.  All they had left now was YHWH.

In reality, that was all they every had to begin with.



All of that popped into my head as I was driving back from breakfast.  I have no answers for the stuff I see at that school other than YHWH.  Short term answers and fixes do not work in the long run.  I do not like that.  But it does force me into a corner.  It forces me to admit that in these circumstances, all I have is YHWH.

Jesus takes away everything that I can cling to for support.  All of the man-made remedies and fixes are torn from my hand.  The ideas and theories I lean on are yanked out from under me.  All that I have left is him.

I don't like that.  But in the long run, that was all I ever had to begin with.  When everything else is gone...and in reality it was never really & truly there, I still have him.  He is still with me.

And so it is with us.


When everything that we cling to is gone.  When we have no answers.  When Jesus points out that nothing we come up with will solve our problems.  When we are forced to put our face in the hard reality of life because there is nothing left, Jesus says; "You still have me."

And that is exactly how it is supposed to be.

____________________

My re-edit of an early portion of Revelation:

To the angel of the church in America write: 


I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete.  You are neither hot nor cold, and I wish that you were one or the other. Therefor, I will take away the gods you worship, the gods in whom you find your strength and refuge.  I will tare them from your hands and leave you naked.


I will take from you your economy, wealth, 401K, Roth IRA and job security.  I will take away the money that you lean on for support.  Capital-ism, Social-ism, Libertarian-ism, I will take them away because you look to them, these little gods of "Isms," to stand on instead of me.


I will take from you the political gods you bow down to.  You who look to candidates, issues and voting records to save your country.  I will humiliate you with them, because you have not trusted me and instead whored yourself out to these lesser gods and so humiliate me.  They cannot save you.  Only I can.  And this is what I will prove.


I will take from you your military.  You look to youth to protect you and keep you safe.  I will take them from you.  I will defeat your armies and you will weep at the sight of your scarred and mangled youth.  And the men & women you sent to fight for you will curse you for what you did to them.  Your armies cannot save you.  Only I can save.


I will take away your popular pastors, your "Mega-Churches," your men who think they desire me because they have written many books and can promise you your best life now.  I will destroy your theologies!  I am God!  There is no other!  What you place your faith and mind in cannot save you.  Only I can.


I will take from you your friends & family, your support.  They will desert you.  You will be found alone, frightened and scared.  As you abandoned me, they will abandon you.  I will take your health & strength.  You will age.  You will get sick.  Your very being will groan and go to the dust.


I will take from you your philosophies, theories, PhDs, and wise & learned men.  I will strip you of your Dr. Phils and Oprahs, your talk shows on TV and radio.  I will take from you every answer that you thought you had and thought would help. 


I will take away everything you depend upon until there is nothing left...nothing at all.


But you will still have me.


There was nothing before me.  There will be nothing after me.  There is only me.  You will come to understand this when everything else is gone.  Your eyes will finally be open...finally.


You will have me!



"Holy, holy, holy
is YWHW God almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come."
Rev. 4:8




Peace

Joe

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