Sunday, February 22, 2009

Comfortably numb, still?

The Hebrew people entered the desert feeling themselves a united people, a strong people, and you'd think that perhaps they would have experience greater strength as they walked through. But no! They experienced fragmentation and weariness; they experienced divisions among their people. They were not the people they thought they were.

When all of our idols are taken away, all our securities and defence mechanisms, we find out who we really are. We're so little, so poor, so empty - sometimes, even so ugly. But God takes away our shame, and we are able to present ourselves to God poor and humble. Then we find out who we are and who God is for us.

from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 130

This morning I was struck all of a heap by the thought that in the Gospels, Jesus doesn't say that the issue keeping us from the Kingdom is sexual immorality, or sexual orientation, or violence, or gambling, or any of the things that so occupy the minds of so many of us within the church, but the three P's, power, prestige and possessions.

I keep thinking about this. All the energy that goes into these concerns, all the anguish caused to people, the disruption and disgrace caused by factions and parties over issues like sexual orientation, and yet we miss the real problems that are under our noses. I seem to remember Jesus making some remark involving gnats and camels...

And yet we are still God's people, even if we turn out not to be the people we thought we were. We may be broken, and misguided, mistreated and mistreating, and our sights may be set on things no child of God ought even to glance at; but we are his people. We were bought at a price. Who are we to call ourselves unworthy, when Christ died for us the way he did?

One thing though - if we don't wake ourselves up out of our comfortably numb condition, we'll be woken. Isn't that what Jesus keeps on saying, throughout the Gospels? We have to stay awake. We have to shake ourselves, and keep watch (Mark 13.34-37) Comfortably numb won't cut it. Only when we know ourselves through and through as poor, and little, and empty, will we be fit for the Kingdom.

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