Defiant Savior ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Defiant Savior

I've been thinking recently about an aspect of Christ that is rarely named. A neglected facet of the divine, a window seldom opened. This glimpse, like every glimpse of Jesus, is sharp and beautifully startling, if only we can see it.

We're accustomed to think of Jesus in pacifist terms, as if his goal was to end all war and die quietly and leave those who knew him affirmed in their self-esteem. We sometimes paint him as a kind of Dalai Lama or a bobbing-head doll, who murmurs pacifying truisms to his followers. Likely at the bottom of this is our modern tendency to misconstrue love (in this case, God's) as whatever makes us feel good. But a mild-mannered smiley-Jesus does not tell the whole story, not by half.

For the Jesus who cooked his comrades' breakfast, raised spirits at a village wedding and coddled children is the same Christ who railed at evil and called his rivals names: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, with outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead men's serpents, you brood of vipers" (Matthew 23:27,33, The Bible). The pronouncements of Jesus sting. And they are meant to, words that cut to the heart, from the very Maker of bones. These were no slip of the tongue, but calculating. Awful: "Why do you not understand what I say? Because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires" (John 8:43-44, The Bible). No milksop Jesus, this. And how could he be?

Jesus would lay into feelings to spare the soul. What concerned him most was not a universal happy hour, but reality. He knew a comfortable, false life was ultimately lethal. Therefore we find in Christ a mean streak, a hard-nosed toughness turned on evil. Jesus was a fierce instigator where illicit trafficking was concerned. A moral brawler. He mercilessly called it like it was, disrupting the darkness hiding in the status quo.

Unlike a model pacifist, Jesus was a fighter. His weapons were verbal, and he made no apologies for arguing reality. Apparently he found some things, like eternally-continuing lives, worth fighting for.

Therefore, Jesus fought. He fought for you and for me, and he said things meant to hurt and to incise—to spur people on to God. He came to turn the whole world order on its head, advancing the unseen above the seen, the eternal over the temporal, the small over the great. He did it so that we would see life for what it really is. He said that earthly wealth and power were mere knockoffs, and if you chased them you were damned. Jesus didn't hedge about the truth, and when he called out error he was ready to follow through.

He was not mean. But he was honest, and strong enough to beat the fear-mongers at their own game. He was never cruel. But his devotion to truth was equal to his compassion, and not less.

All told, he is, as ever, paradoxical: A defiant sacrifice, bringing a violent grace. Deathless but bleeding. Indestructible but beaten. Invincible, facing imminent death. Christ is a miracle child who wars on false appearances. Put him in a box, and it shatters, the splinters bursting into flame. And as we look at the pattern he left, we see that it couldn't be otherwise.

Christ was the perfect teacher, the ideal master, the consummate rescuer of souls. As such, he was the type of man you would want beside you in a fight, for he knew how to tend wounds as well as deal them. If I am to have a hero, a God-man who fights for my life, let him be fierce. Let him be fierce and kind at heart. Give me an Achilles with the cross at his heel and the heart of a Teresa. Let him be fiery love embodied.

Let him be as he is.

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*why, yarn?* said...

inspiring, simply inspiring. I want that kind of Jesus too.

Rhyanne said...

Amen to that! He exemplified what true leadership is all about.

Anonymous said...

That was an excellent post. True part of what makes it great is your unique way of expressing truth. You are able arrange words in such a way that they sink deep and leave a striking impression on the reader. However, what makes the post even greater is the subject: Christ, the real Christ. When he is the focus, one can't help but be moved with wonder. At least this one can't!



Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife