Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Jesus and Idols

Money, power, sex... these are the kinds of things that people use as a means of exalting themselves and finding a sense of identity and purpose and status.  They are misuses of good things given to us, perversions.  They turn ordinary things into ultimate things... into idols, false gods, objects of our devotion and worship.

And Christians are right in pointing out that these things are idols, idols which will never deliver on what they promised.  The antidote is Jesus Christ.  And so, many demonstrate how Jesus gives us a far better status and identity and purpose.  Jesus gives us a lasting hope, a higher status that will not fade, unconditional acceptance and love, and purpose as a king, priest, and missionary in this world.  All true.

But what I posit to you is that this is still missing something important.  Lutheran theologians might notice that this is really just turning the Christian faith into another theology of glory.  It turns Jesus into another means, albeit a better means, to finding the kind of self-glory and self-exaltation we seek.  It neglects that perhaps the main problem is not merely the object of that pursuit but the pursuit itself.  The theology of glory, after all, describes what is wrong with us -our pursuit of glory, of turning everything into a means of getting ourselves up the ladder.

The theology of the cross, however, counters this, destroys this.  It shows that God's own Son, come down to us, lived in our shoes and did not escape death but went headlong into it, for us and for our sins, and was then raised from the grave as the first of a new creation.  It shows that God operates on a completely different system.  We think in terms of going up. He thinks in terms of coming back down, shedding the delusional need to go up. That delusion is the problem, and it needs to die.  But life is found out of death, our healing is found through a new life, and faith is coming back down to earth and realizing that the ladder was a total sham to begin with.

So, I would agree that Jesus is the antidote, but perhaps not in the way typically prescribed.  I do not think Jesus ought to be peddled as a better way to fulfill our self-defined plight.  I think in some way the cross of Christ must relate to us and expose our self-defined plight for what it is: the way of this world, the way of death and futilify itself.  It shows us that the system of the world, along with this, both deserves to die and must die in order for something new to exist.  That is the only way.  But because of His death and resurrection, on the other side of that death there is something new.  There is redemption and restoration and a new creation.  There is actual hope through death.  There is actual freedom found through the expiation of the lie, when that system is killed off and we realize that in truth we are all equals, all creatures of God by His unintelligible choice and design.

That sense of emptiness and unworthiness is the result of the curse, the backlash of our quest for glory, our "knowledge of good and evil", coming to meet us as we walk in real life, among others with the same curse and all the wounds and shame that go along with it.  Yes, we were meant for greatness, but the kind of greatness is not the kind we think.  God's idea of greatness is not a better fulfillment of our own ideas, of our own system.  It is a totally new and different system, where "greatness" is found in being a mere creature on God's earth, living to love Him, tend His creation, and love and serve others. 

Jesus, kill in me, by the cross, what is of the world in me so that You may restore in me what is of the earth, what is of your hand.

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