Sunday, April 24, 2011

One Need Not Believe In Jesus

So, you’re probably expecting me to write about the Easter bunny, right? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but my comments are actually about suffering, death, and burial.

Many of you consider me to be a religious man, but, actually, nothing could be farther from the truth. I am a practical man, not by any religious measure, to be sure, but by almost any reasonable measure. Note, I said ‘reasonable’ measure. If your particular religion, or ideology, does not recognize my perspective as ‘reasonable’, that doesn’t necessarily make you right, but it doesn’t necessarily make me wrong either. Still, I must say, “I have confidence in my point of view.”

Some of you consider me to be irreverent because I do not necessarily subscribe to the tenants of a particular religion. But really, one can only offend the pseudo sacrosanct. That which is truly Holy is never offended by perspective. Holy is, in fact, able to absorb all that is unholy, or profane, with an assimilation that is seamless, and without reproach. So I ask you, is your belief system able to accommodate that?

Christian, or not, most of you know the story of Christ’s dilemma in the Garden, where he agonized over the prospect of a brutal future, facing systematic torture and eventual execution. Add to that the concept of Him carrying on his back the sin and iniquity of all mankind, and you can imagine his profound consternation. Consternation is much too moderate of a word, however. ‘Agony’ would be much more appropriate.

Speaking of Jesus’ torment in the Garden, the Bible says in Matthew 26:39, “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet, I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Now I don’t really care if you believe this account, or anything else the Bible has to say. That’s your business, and it’s really none of my business. And I don’t care if you’re of the Christian faith, the Muslim faith, the Hindu Faith, the Green Party faith, the FaceBook faith, any other faith, or no faith at all. The recounting of the life, and teachings, of Christ are worthy of examination. It’s interesting, however, that many people are afraid of Him. Many people will examine the teachings, and accounts, of almost anybody else on earth, except Christ. How many volume’s does that speak about a person?

Anyway, according to the Biblical accounting of Christ’s predicament in the Garden, He did not take an easy way out of his prescribed destiny. He offered God the option of changing His mind, but, as happens, God remained silent. Jesus did not opt out, cop out, finagle, or dance the fandango. He did not bargain, cry, whine, lie, run, or disappear. He had a choice, but he stayed to face the difficulty, and the certainty of death. He faced the problem head on. He stepped into the eventuality of further suffering, execution, and burial.

And so it is with us. If we want to get to the resurrection in our own lives, we’ve got to go through the preliminary stages first. We cannot opt out, cop out, finagle, or dance the fandango. We cannot bargain, cry, whine, lie, run, or disappear. I don’t care what it is, if a situation is in need of redemption, the suffering is already being played out. We may not call it that, but that is exactly what it is.

In any event, it all adds up to a separation from God. God does not separate Himself from us, but we do separate ourselves from Him. No matter what the situation, in order for change to manifest itself in one’s life, one must be willing to go through the suffering of separation from the old life, to die to it, and then to bury it like a bad disease. We must face the future with courage, with determination, and with the expectation of redemption.

One need not believe in Jesus to find this kind of change.
One only need believe that redemption is possible.
You see, according to the Gospel story, Christ’s death, and resurrection, were intended to enable the same in ourselves.

Regardless of what we might think about it.