ChoicesStripping away all the detritus of theology, what Christianity comes down to is this - God, the Creator of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Master of prions and elephants - loved me so much as to sacrifice a part of the Divine majesty as a ransom for my own wretched life. I have repaid that sacrifice with dilatoriness, sloth, lust, pride, and pettiness. I live an undisciplined, haphazard life, floating through with no thought for anything but my own comfort, promoting my own non-existent gifts, desiring only to promote only myself.
There is little sense to the whole idea, of course. The Deists understood this in their own way, refusing to countenance a god who would care so much for creation as to become so intimately involved in the whole mess. Fundamentalists, too, refuse to countenance such an idea; thus their insistence that once saved, Christians flee the wrath that must surely come upon a world damned by its own desire for power. Secularists and atheists see the whole thing as a tale fit for children and fools, neither wise nor intelligible. They prefer "reality" to the possibility that such a closed loop merely leads them to gaze into their own rectums (yes, I am saying that most ahteists have their heads up their own asses). Most Christians take what they can, take what gives them comfort, and forget that the comfort is not for us, not to prop up our miserable, shallow, pathetic lives, but for those who have no comfort. We are to live for others, not comfort ourselves.
We face stark choices, once we face the truth head on. It would seem simple, of course. On the one hand, there's the God who loves creation so much, embodied in the man Jesus who knows more of death than we who fear it so. On the other, there are the enticements of ease, comfort, self-assurance and promotion, the wonderful desires of the belly and the gonads, the security of the hearth. The problem, of course, is that these enticements, these proddings and pullings of our life are illusions. Our bellies empty, we satisfy our lusts only for a moment or two, our homes too often are purchased at the sacrifice of any possibility of actually enjoying them. We promote ourselves only to find that there is actually nothing there to promote.
What does God offer us? We are promised suffering, self-abnegation and -sacrifice. We are promised to be despised, hated, hunted, killed by a world that seeks to silence the truth that love is more powerful than death. We are told that fear of death is the greatest motivator; yet what if death itself had lost any power? What if the greatest weapon the rulers of this world had were an illusion?
We face a choice, then, of following the path set before us - a path that promises to be lonely and hard, with many side-paths leading away to phantasms of comfort and ease - and achieving . . . what? Nothing for ourselves. There are no Pearly Gates, no St. Peter with a book, no winged Aryans blowing trumpets.
Perhaps, however, there is the possibility that, in the real end - not the end of fairy stories, not the end of the scientists and prophets of dust, but the end decreed by God before the world was - we shall stand once more, our voices raised in a chorus to make galaxies shake and Quasars dim, facing the throne of God, and hear forever both the true song of creation, and the response from the throne, a response whose contemplation even now makes my eyes tear with anticipation, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
I must admit, I wish to stand there. I wish to be a part of that choir. I have no desire for streets of gold, but rather a banquet table spread before us, with God not at the head, but seated beside each guest, laughing, refilling the glasses and plates, sharing in laughter. The road there, however, is dark, and I have no tools of myself to give me strength to make it. That is why I must surrender any confidence in my own abilities and hope and pray that any strength, any power, any cleverness, any discipline, comes from God. It is in God that my hope lies. It is in God that my faith rests. It is from God that love flows forth, filling all that is with true song.
This is a day of new beginnings
Time to remember and move on
Time to believe what love is bringing
Laying to rest the pain that's gone. . . .
Then let us, with the Spirit's daring,
Step from the past and leave behind
Our disappointment, guilt, and grieving,
Seeking new paths, and sure to find.