Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An Unrecognizable We

So I'm taking a few days to talk about this book that I picked up over the weekend by a so-called Christian author who is quite beloved by many Christians, but whose writings, judging by this sample, are anything but.

Yesterday, I noted how she uses Jesus only in the same breath as Buddha, reducing Him to nothing more than a good teacher (rather than a Savior), then runs a very fragile thread of Christian Scripture through her text, all in an effort really that proclaims that the wide road is just as good and same as the narrow one Jesus said that He is.

It's dangerous.

And it doesn't take reading very far into the book to recognize that the wide road gets even wider as the author attempts to create a "we" through her liberal theological inclusiveness, one that is ugly and, ironically, anything but inclusive.

See, she speaks of "we" as though we're all having the same experience here. She speaks of "we" as if we're all one and same, as if none of us are fundamentally different than she is. She speaks of "we" as if we all take the very same steps through this broken minefield and come to the very same conclusions and have the very same interpretations of what life is "really" like.

In order to do this, without Christ as Savior and God as Creator and anything good and beautiful in the world to hold onto - without a solid hope - she has to go into the pits of human experience and present the darkness as though this is what is most "real" about our living.

We all, to hear her tell it, go through our lives hating them. We all think we're ugly. We are all pretty sure we're wasting our time. We all get stuck in long lines, traffic jams, and sick days, and we all deserve better, but there is no better because this is all it is. And we all hate our parents and grew up in broken homes and look around us and see the same poverty and hunger and oppression that we experienced ourselves because it's everywhere and we can't escape it. And we're all bitter about it. We're all miserable here. We're all resigned to this, and it makes us mean and ugly, and that's cool because that's who "we" are. "We" understand each other, so no reason to hold anyone accountable for anything better. Bitter makes sense here.

I'm reading along and hearing her complain about her life as though it's my life, too, and I've got to be honest with you - I don't recognize myself in her story. I could, but I don't. I could just as easily come down into the darkness and the ugliness and the kind of discontented disdain that she has for the life that she's living, but that's not really how I want to live my life.

And in light of the real Christ, the Savior, my Lord, Lover, and Redeemer, I don't have to. More than that, God doesn't want me to.

But you see, if we're walking the wide road, it has to be this way. "We" have to be "we" to be traveling together this way; if anyone claims to have light in the darkness, they are no longer a part of this "we." Get on board, everybody! Come into the darkness! Because "we" are all searching for light, which is somewhere at the end of this road of self-salvation, all we have to make us a "we" is our darkness. If it's all just up to "Jesus and Buddha" and "whatever mother earth can teach you," there is no common hope to bind us, only struggle and challenge and darkness. You can't have the light already, for you are "here" with us and not "there" wherever the light dwells.

Maybe it's the light I have. I don't know. I just don't see myself in her "we." I don't want my life to be one of grumbling, griping, complaining, and only knowing the bad things that become us. I don't want to resign myself to a broken world as if it is somehow more real than God's promise of hope and as if, which is the point she's ultimately getting at through these words, it takes a savior like me to redeem it just by living it better with more persons on the widest road. Just by taking good ideas like mercy and grace and good things and pretending they were my ideas and becoming proficient in bettering my life.

Because she says things like that. She rants and raves and grumbles down this trail of all the broken things "we" experience and concludes, essentially, that it's time for us to do better. To rise above. To pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and by the teachings (but not the sacrifice) of Jesus and Buddha (who was no sacrifice). It's all about "we."

Uhm, no thanks.

I don't recognize your "we." It just doesn't gel with the "we" over here on the narrow road, the one that starts with Christ's experience, not this author's experience. The one that starts with His heart, not hers. The one that starts with His promise, not hers. The one that's grounded in real Hope, not wishful thinking. Start with Christ, and this "we" we've got is good and beautiful and wonderfully His, just as it was from the very beginning when "we" walked in the Garden with Him and as it will be in the end when "we" see Him face-to-face. This is our "we," in the image of God. It is light and life on the narrow road. 

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