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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wrestling

I've been thinking about this thing called Christianity.  Three things have intertwined and largely defined my experience and understanding of Christianity up to this point in my life.  First, it has been about learning to live well- to develop a moral life, a culture of worshiping God, the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, etc.  Secondly, my paradigm has included the idea that if I lived in a way that is pleasing to God (worked hard on number one), trusted in Jesus, and prayed scripture over my family, then I would walk in protection, prosperity, and blessing.  While this has been my experience most of my life, it is clear now that it is not a guarantee.  Be thankful if it happens, but you can't bank on it.  After all we are promised suffering, and most Christians in the rest of the world experience it daily.  Finally, I have experienced God's love.  I have literally felt it many times.  Although I know "He has not left me or forsaken me," I do not feel His love now.  I feel loved by so many of you, but not by God.

Now, my heart has been ripped apart, my precious daughter has been snatched from my arms, and it seems the Christianity that I knew is broken.   My paradigm has been shattered.  These defining elements have fled away, and I am left with the bare bones of what I believe.  Then it dawns on me that none of what I have experienced up until this point in my life is what Christianity is really about.  It is not about lives that are safe, protected, blessed and prosperous.  We can take these perks and and claim they are promises and even rights here in our comfortable western lifestyle, and we can ignore that these scriptures are all tempered with other promises of pain, persecution, and trouble while we are still here in this world.  But, ultimately, the gospel is not about these things.

It is about Death.   Jesus did not come to bring the beatitudes.  He came to deal with the problem of death.  This thing that seems to have left me broken is the very thing that all my belief has circled around and built towards my whole life.  When the horrible things come, we want to say that Christianity is not real.  It doesn't work.  I want to say that it does not work.  But the whole reason Jesus came is because of the horrible things.  If they were not here, he would not have needed to come.  I cannot throw it out now that my paradigm seems destroyed... now that I am staring in the very face of what it is about- Death.  The real deal.

Death is a partner we all must dance with.  He takes a number on our card... a number we can't know.  We laugh and swirl and enjoy the ball until THE song comes, and our unwelcome partner steps up for his dance.  There is no avoiding him.  Not one of us will escape, but Christianity is for what comes next.  Though death will waltz us right out of the ballroom, his song is short and his grasp will slip if our trust is in Jesus.  Jesus will cut in, and we will be whisked away.  Death cannot keep us from the real dance that begins with the Prince of Peace in the ultimate ballroom before the throne of the King of Kings.  This dance has no end- no tears- no unwelcome partners.

No, I cannot throw out Christianity as I stand toe to toe with Death.  It is about Death.  It is about Life.  Eternal Life.  It is about a life with continuity between earth and heaven because my heart is already there.   My Makiah is there.   My future and my hope are there.   The real dance with the Prince is there.

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