Friday, February 14, 2014

Tyler Blanski: "Christianity is not safe"

Some people scoff at Christianity.  They think religion is a crutch, an emotional cushion for the timid and weak-minded.  "Faith is an easy out," this line of reasoning goes.  "Who wouldn't want the comfort of a loving God?"  But Christianity is not safe.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is anything but the high and easy road.  You cannot have salvation without damnation.  To accept Jesus as Lord and Savior is to accept a world where all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, all have gone astray, where each of us has warped and twisted the image of God impressed on us into a diseased, leprous narcissism.  There is no one righteous, not even one.  There is no one who understands.  No one who seeks God.  All have turned away.  To believe what Jesus is saying is to believe that the whole sweep of human history apart from God has culminated in the twenty-first century hipster: jaded, sarcastic, desperate for a teenage dream in the face of a yawning, cankerous vacuum.  The fruit of sin is ripe and rotting.  It produces nothing but isolation, fear, anger, the misuse of the earth and the abuse of other people, even ourselves.  Is it any wonder that the revenue of sin is death?

We might like to think we are the exception to the rule but only because we conveniently ignore our abuse of oil, our exploitation of international labor, and our endorsement of something as monstrous as a megamall.  We overlook what we do in dark rooms with a strong Internet connection and what we delight to watch on television.  Even Christians are proud to flaunt their healthy bodies and their manicured lawns yet timid to flaunt righteousness and truth.  If we are to take this wild and woolly God-man at his word, we are forced to admit that, like those in the days of Noah, we too deserve to die.  Death.  Death by water.

But there is hope in the horror.  The flood is not the end of the story.  Sin and death are not the last word.  "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).  We not only need to drown in the floodwaters; we need to be lifted up into a new life with Christ.  This is the gift of Baptism: we get to die to our old sinful selves and to be reborn in the light and life of Christ's boundless love.

~ Tyler Blanski, When Donkeys Talk: A Quest to Rediscover the Mystery and Wonder of Christianity (2012)