Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Laws And Joylessness

The rules and laws and joylessness of the white Christ, the punishments and deprivations--how is this a religion? How is this a life?
And we are to love a God who demands this of us?
- Northlanders Vol Three, "Lindisfarne" Part 2
by Brian Wood and Dean Ormston

Wouldn't it be great to be buddies with God? If he was on your side, everything would be swell. You would be wealthy and successful and happy all the time because everything would go your way. That is how it logically would go, but despite what Joel Osteen will tell you, the Christian life isn't like that at all.

Remember, Jesus is the messiah no one expects. He doesn't come as a conqueror but as a servant. Frankly, it doesn't make sense. This is why John D. Caputo calls the life and teachings of Christ the "madness of the kingdom." As God incarnate, Jesus did not live as divine royalty. Instead he lived among the scourge of the earth, befriending those people that society had given up on.

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. - Mark 10:45  [NRSV]
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. - Mark 10:31 [NRSV]
Those who find their lives will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. - Matthew 10:39 [NRSV]
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. - Matthew 5:11-12 [NRSV]
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. - Matthew 6:24 [NRSV]
He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." - Mark 9:35 [NRSV]
So a follower of Christ doesn't have worldly wealth and success to look forward to, but a life of humbling servitude. That doesn't always sound the most appealing, does it? Detractors sometimes critique Christianity as a religion of rules and laws and endless lists of fun things one shouldn't do. With that mentality, no, the life of a Christian doesn't seem fun at all.

However, like most subjects, the lines aren't as clear. What I mean is that neither extreme is true of Christianity: pure joyous success or dismal servitude. I think you can serve Christ in a way that is enjoyable to you. Take something you enjoy and find a way to use that in the service of God and others. Don't worry if what you come up with sounds crazy. The more absurd it is, the better.

Hey, I went to seminary and wrote a thesis on theology in comic books.

Doesn't get much more absurd than that.

Doesn't get much better, either.

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