Saturday, April 15, 2017

What If It Isn't True?



There’s a quote attributed to the ancient philosopher Euripides that goes like this:


Well.  If that doesn’t describe life as I know it, I’m not sure what else would.

In the Western-American Christian sub-culture, once dominated by the influence of Evangelicalism, people have been taught that it is only religious certitude that marks one as faithful to the Gospel, as being ‘in the right.’  The more right answers you have, the more certain of your faith…and salvation…and ‘eternal destiny’ you can be.  You also get to be certain about the faith, salvation, and ‘eternal destiny’ of other people, as well.  At least, that’s what, functionally, people have been taught.

But what if it isn’t true?

What if nothing about God… Jesus… tradition…Scripture… experience… reason…

What if none of it is true?

It is my contention that if we do not allow ourselves to sit with this possibility, we cannot truly and fully be people of faith.  For it is what you choose to believe when you don’t see it that defines faithfulness, not what you have no choice but to believe when you do see it.

Or to put it in Euripides’ terms:  If we question nothing, we don’t learn anything, and we think we have the answer to everything. 

I don’t really want to be ‘that person.’  At least, not anymore.  Do you?

Yesterday, Jesus died.  In Mark’s account of the final moments of Jesus’ life, Jesus is hanging on the cross and cries out:  “Eloi, eloi, lama sabacthani?”  which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  After receiving a final drink, Jesus gives a loud cry, and then… Jesus dies.

Jesus’ life does not end with an answer but with a question to which he gives no answer.  It ends with doubt… uncertainty… indescribable pain… inexplicable suffering.  And that….that is the place where Jesus saves us.

Or so we think.

Because, Jesus is dead!  It is one thing to trust in a person or a plan that has succeeded.  After all, everyone loves success, even more so in 21st century Western-American culture.  It is quite another to trust in a person or a plan that has utterly failed, in every way.

Let me make this as clear as possible:  Jesus’ life was a complete and utter failure, and to be like Jesus is to see the same result in ourselves.  Try preaching that.  I have.  And it does preach...  but only to the humble, with whom it resonates…

This. This is Holy Saturday…

So… enough with the constant chatter and never ending rants of the time in which we find ourselves alive. 

Just…sit with this…sit with it…not “sit down and shut up.”  But instead, “sit with this reality and be still…and know…that he is dead…and he is God…”

Now that’s true.

God is dead.

There is no answer to a world full of pain, suffering, and death.  No one, not even the most holy among us, will ever be immune to it.

And unless we are willing to fully embrace that fact with all that we have and all that we are…

…there can be no resurrection

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