Angelizing the Demonized

Friends, 

   

Events in Charlottesville are all over the news. Twitter is in meltdown mode.  A couple of observations…..

 

First, evil typically arrives in the form of a ‘victim,’ which is then leveraged to give moral cover to their destructive methods.  Consider this: white nationalists (KKK, etc) & anarchists (Antifa, etc) have a lot in common.  Both claim historical grievances (i.e. victimhood), both have a history of lawlessness and violence......and, most importantly, both are profoundly evil.

 

Having said that, I have always found it instructive that Jesus didn't enlist in any public cause, any political movement, any party affiliation. Goodness knows that he had ample opportunity. He lived in an era in which the oppressive boot of Rome was everywhere present and ancient hostilities between ethnic groups was a fact of daily life.

 

And yet, Jesus didn’t jump into the political fray. He seemed to reject what might be called, 'supra personal' causes, opting instead to focus, like a laser beam, on 'inter-personal' relationships. Private habits rather than public causes.

 

I suspect that’s because Jesus understood that it's easy to virtue-signal, to publicly posture, to add one’s name to the list of the cause du jour. What’s difficult however is to quietly love one's neighbor, in the mundane day to day.  For, as a friend of mine says…

 

‘There’s nothing more tragic than a public success and a private failure.’

 

Now, I can’t speak for others, but I have found that enlisting myself in the 'cause du jour' can too easily serve as a rather convenient fig leaf: A means to cover, or perhaps compensate for, my inability to be kind to, let alone love, my wife, my children, my neighbors, my work colleagues, my fellow motorists, and yes, even my fellow church members.

 

What Jesus did do, was this: He told stories in which he championed the virtues of those whose group had been demonized by those around him. That bears repeating: What Jesus did do, which I find fascinating, is tell stories in which he championed the virtues of those whose group had been demonized by those around him.

 

  • He praised a Roman centurion, telling his disciples, (one of which had been an anti-Roman zealot) that said centurion had demonstrated ‘greater faith’ than the most observant Jew, leaving Jesus ‘amazed.’

  • He told a parable in which the hero was a member of a rather despised heretical clan called 'The Samaritans.'

  • He told another parable in which a Roman collaborator, (a tax collector) was more righteous than well-versed clergyman.

In short, Jesus' angelized the demonized.

 

I’m not sure what that might look like for me in an increasingly tribal America, but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna take courage.

 

Any suggestions?

 

 

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