It's lit a fire in my bones, a song burning in my soul.
And what has my love for Christ ever cost me? Readers on my blog? A friendship or acquaintance? An uncomfortable conversation, being misunderstood, disliked or dismissed?
It will cost them their lives.
I'm struck by the chasm between their faith and ours here in the U.S. Here we use our well-educated minds to slice and dice theology and faith, even Christ himself, into portions we deem palatable. We are often easily offended by the thought of a God who acts in ways we don't understand or agree with, that offend our human sensibilities, and so we accept and reject based on what we can make sense of. In doing so, we reduce Jesus to less, we take him down to our level and place him in the history books next to other Greats, like Ghandi and Buddha and Martin Luther King, Jr. He becomes no more than an incredible revolutionary, a rebel, a champion of the poor and oppressed, an inspiration for our 'spirituality.' Some accept the hope of his resurrection and reject his death on the cross as the means through which we can be saved. He is just one household name for a generic, universal god. And this is a choice I know we are all free to make and many do not make it lightly, but with conviction - and hear me, please - I respect that in you.
But it is not what I choose.
And all the while, others sit in prison waiting to take a bullet for their love of him. He is more than a figure who shows them how to live a better life. He is their life. And in their case, he comes to show them, also, how to die.
What a disservice we do to Christ, to those who are losing everything - everything! - to gain him. I am grieved, friends, by my petty faith, my cheap self-comforts and lazy love. He is worth infinitely more than this, as my sisters and brothers around the world seem to know much more clearly than I.
I have no desire to judge others, attack beliefs or speak ungraciously. Neither do I want to tire myself out with an endless effort not to offend anyone. We can agree to disagree. We can show each other respect, love and honor. But I cannot reduce Jesus to less.
I read today in my daily Lenten prayers something that continues to echo in the halls of my heart:
"Our desire is clear.
We want the 'self-sacrificing love of Christ' -
which brings us mercy and healing - to be 'reproduced in our lives.'
In our journey, we seek to savor the meaning of Jesus' self-less love,
that we might reflect that love to others.
At the end of our journey, we will renew our baptismal promises.
Dying with Jesus in baptism, we have a new life in him.
Today, we desire nothing less than God's re-creating us -
breathing new life into us. "
Let this song saturate every aspect of my life.
. . . . . . . . . .
This is my unofficial blog series for Lent, "Ornaments of hope," where I want to learn to sing like the birds and hang these songs as 'ornaments' on the trees. I don't know how often I will write, but I'm committed to writing out this forty day journey in some way. And you? I know you're on your own journey, and I'd love to hear about that. But if you resonate with any of this, I hope to see you around here this Lenten season. Singing with the birds and hanging our ornaments of hope as we journey from darkness to light. Maybe we'll even form a choir.