Monday, April 13, 2009

Great insight from Greg Boyd

Here's a link to a good article about two other articles! I think Greg Boyd has his head screwed on right. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On Easter

I'm sitting here in my home office after putting Bauer down for a nap. Brandy is off with some friends so I have a few quiet moments a home to myself. I'm looking out my window over the front field of my property; the sun is shining and my dog is asleep on the driveway. This is my element. Peace and serenity.

Is it just me or is the world getting noticeably noisier lately? I swear that the TV stations are cranking up the volume an extra notch when commercials come on. The main street in my town is more clogged than ever. More businesses with bigger signs that are all vying for my attention and discretionary dollar. The voices on the radio seem to be barking more than talking these days. When combined, they make this loud hum that serves as a backdrop for my every day. I really do hate it. But out here in the country, I feel a release; an exhale. Out here I am forgotten, and that's just fine with me.

Tomorrow is Easter. My church is planning a special event, as are thousands of other churches around the world. This is a special week for us and we certainly give it its due time and effort. I'm waiting for the annual news report of the group in Asia (I believe) that actually crucifies one of its members to show solidarity with the crucified Jesus of Nazareth of ancient Israel. Most churches in my town have some sort of special message on their sign announcing the times of their special gatherings. Its a big deal.

What my mind is chewing on this year at this time is the scene itself. The moment, 2000 years ago, when everything changed. We speak of the resurrection more often around Easter, but seldom to we really dig into it. What it really meant and the magnitude of its influence over human history. To summarize it as we sometimes do ("Jesus died and rose again for your sins") leaves out so much of the wonder and amazement of it all. Here we have Jesus, who had done a great job of stirring the pot, meeting an end that nobody could have guessed. Three years of time in the countryside, teaching about a kingdom that in many ways was opposite of what the people had been told. Their culture and history had been preparing them for someone to come and rescue them, but the one who claimed to be that person was nothing like they had expected. He told them that God's way of living included ridiculous things like loving your enemy, thinking of others as better than your self, and forgiving everyone who wronged you. He didn't speak of war, revolt, or revolution; instead he spoke of gentleness and being like a child. When he talked of power, he said that power was in giving of yourself for other and not using it for your own gain. Everything they had believed was being turned on its head. And many wanted nothing of it. Many wanted bloodshed and revenge. Others wanted political power and influence. And other still wanted a return to religious tradition. What Jesus had, they wanted nothing of it.

And over time the few that DID follow him began to fade. The utter lunacy of this man's speech and actions had held the attention of some, but the noise of the world around them was too much to endure. And they left him. I would have left him too. The voices of the religious leaders ringing in my ears, screaming of blasphemy and punishment. The voices of the mockers, who were so quick to point out the seeming foolishness of such a message. The voices of family, friends, culture and tradition all with the same message of condemnation. I would have left him too. The noise would have been too loud to ignore. And so what started as a revolution filled with life and truth and all things pure, would slowly dissipate into a few cowardly friends watching a bloodied Jesus carry cross up steep hill. The noise of the people's rage and malice was too much to even attempt to overcome.

So they, and I, would have stood there and watched him stumble to a tragic and humiliating end. The proof hung there in front of everyone. This was no revolution. This was no kingdom. What kind of king hangs from three nails looking more like an animal than a human? What kind of king screams in pain and in helplessness? This was no king. The world had shown his message and life to be that of a fool; purposeless and impotent. This is because in their world, the world around them and all they had ever known, he had failed. Hanging on a hill, he had failed to gain any of the things that the world would consider necessary to win. He had no friends and had been given up by one of his own. He had no power, as the establishment considered him cursed and had struck him down. He had no money or pedigree that gave him any standing or reputation in society. He had nothing in their eyes, and now they were slowly and tortuously taking away the very life in him. The only thing he had left.

The noise of that day would fade away rather quickly. I doubt there were many in Jerusalem who woke up two days later and had even a fleeting though of Jesus. I'm sure they'd seen things like that before, and with the way he ended, he wasn't worth even a moment of thought. And the world went on about its business.

And here is where my mind has been. There is a tomb on the countryside that holds the body of a nobody. A nobody destined to join billions of other nobodies that will be forgotten in short time. The noise has left this place and the air is calm. Sometime during that day the entire universe was split in two. Something happened that would shake the foundation of existence and literally transform the world forever. Not a speech or celebrity. Not a war or coup. Not a revolution or revolt. Sometime that day, with nobody watching, a human being that had been killed two days earlier took a breath; and then another breath. A step was taken. A blink of an eye, and a swallow. And just that fast the moment was over. The most astounding, significant, victorious and triumphant event that had ever happened, or will ever happen, occurred without even the faintest shout. No noise. And somehow that first breath that Jesus took in that tomb back then, had made my life worth living today. Millenia later, I live my life with the greatest knowledge that any man can ever carry; everything is going to be alright. I'm going to be OK. And that brings tears to my eyes even as I type this. Everything to going to be OK......

The people who had the power to kill Jesus had earned that power. They had intentionally made decisions to gain for themselves the wealth, influence, or whatever was needed to become someone who can choose to have another person killed. And once that kind of power is attained it must be protected. It must be sustained. Nobody stays in power forever as others will always strive to take that power away for themselves. This is the game we've created as humans. We seek to be able to control the game and make the up our own rules to benefit ourselves. And, of course, others wish to have that same power and will some day find a way to take it away. The cycle is as old as time and is showing no signs of going away any time soon. It was through this lens that Pilate, the crowds and the Pharisees viewed Jesus. He was a threat to each of them; a different threat for each but a threat still. In their attempts to keep their power they had Jesus put to death. And how did they get that done? They made noise. The crowds used their mob power to influence Pilate. The Pharisees used their religious status to make the public allegations against Jesus. Pilate used the grand stage he was given as governor to deliver the speech that would result in the sentence of Crucifixion. And isn't it just beautiful, and just like Jesus, to overthrow them all with the simplest of bodily functions in a cave with nobody watching. That's real power. That's power that doesn't need to dethrone the powers that be in order to gain influence. Its the kind of power that authored the very idea of influence and, ironically, controls who gets to sit in the world's thrones. And to see such a power revealed in such a soft and serene place, in a way that would seem silly to the powers this world, gives great testimony to the character of the being who wields that power.

So tomorrow I'll go to my church and participate in Easter service. But sitting here looking out over my field I think I get it. The true essential power of all things, the God of the universe, has made himself known to us. He taught us what his kingdom is like and what he is like. He suggested the craziest of things that would make even the most gullible person question. And later, with that breath, he showed that he can be trusted. His power will never fade and nobody will unseat him from his throne. He's looking out for me and I know that I'm going to be OK. And for that, he has my love.