Redeemer (1,192)

June 29th, 2011

It was the name of the church last night—the sanctuary where I found myself sharing my ideas and gifts to a roomful of strangers. Church of the Redeemer—another one of those religious terms: redeemer.

I decided to look it up in the dictionary. Basically, the dictionary definition is “to buy back or to save from distress.” I had to ask myself a question: do I really believe that religion and belief in God provides that for people? For I will be honest with you—questioning is a good thing. A certain amount of agnosticism proffered at the right moment can be the better part of belief. If we walk around all the time reciting verses and doctrines, trying to shout them louder than our fears, it doesn’t really build an understanding of either our emotional reality or our spiritual potential.

Here’s what I came up with: are people who believe in God actually the nicest folks I meet? I wondered if people who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ are truthfully more secure and open to others than those who have not chosen that path. I was curious if being redeemed really does free us from “the distress.” And what is “the distress?” I think distress is always caused when we cling to the three great “nasties” of life:

1. Worry. Worry is always the confluence of fear and arrogance—fear in the sense that we believe the problem before us doesn’t seem to have any solution, and arrogance because we insist that if we don’t know the solution, it must not exist.

2. Self-righteousness. In other words, if we have to live by a code of behavior, in some sort of prison of morality, damned sure everybody else better get in jail with us. It isn’t that this cocoon of rules is making us happy, it’s just that we have convinced ourselves that it’s a “righteous encasement” and therefore should be followed, no matter how painful the procedure.

3. And finally, the third nasty is the contention that we are all different. It seems harmless enough, but the minute we trick ourselves into our uniqueness and the aberrations in others, we cease to pursue a path of understanding and eventually decline interaction. For instance, I don’t know whether white people were actually ever of a belief that black people were inferior, but rather, felt that the obvious color difference made them seem unapproachable, and therefore opted to create all sorts of storylines to explain their reticence. I don’t know if most people actually have a strong moral objection to homosexuals, but instead, a great apprehension that they might be confronted by one and seduced.

These three nasties keep us from really being redeemed, and as long as the church fails to speak against these pieces of depravity, redemption will be a theory, soaked in the blood of Christ, but abandoned of application.

I like the people I met last night. But I told them and will tell you, I do not sense a freedom from distress. And even though I know they were bought by the courage of Jesus on the cross, giving his life to maintain the beauty of free will, I do not perceive that the ransom has created a race of excellent believers.

I am not cynical—I am not without hope. It’s just that I think we need voices crying in the wilderness to truly redeem our generation from its own nastiness and make us free of the burdens of politics, religion and corporate greed.

Someone asked me just yesterday whether I was an ordained theologian.

Hell, no. What could render me less effective to share the heart of God than being a theologian? I am a simple man with a simple message and if you want to know what I am, here it is: God made human beings, He isn’t surprised by our human ways, and our mission is not to merely worship Him, but rather, to find a way to use our humanity to help one another.

Anything less than that fails to redeem.

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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