Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jesus' offer to the foolhardy

We are near the end of Michael Frost's book 'Jesus the Fool: The Mission of the Unconventional Christ.' Chapter 10 is entitled "Jesus' Offer To The Foolhardy." It's an interesting chapter where Frost outlines Jesus' description of our limitations, as well as his path to rise above them. Frost likens this journey to "snakes becoming dragons."

Some of the main highlights I took from this chapter:
Harold Kusher is a rabbi who served the Temple Israel in Massachusetts. When asked by LIFE magazine what he thought was the meaning of life, he said he believed it is to be partners in creation with God. He illustrated this idea by telling the reporter that the Hebrews often ask why God didn't create trees that grow loaves of bread. Wouldn't that have made things much easier? But no, God created wheat so that humans may sow it, and tend it, and water it, and harvest it, grind it, kneed it, bake it and turn it into bread. In other words, God delights in people becoming partners in creativity and production....

...Kushner's perspective that we are partners with God in creation, that we enter into a cooperative arrangement, allows for life to include both human and divine effort.

"I would rather walk shoulder-to-shoulder with God, knowing that life is far more satisfying, productive, and therapeutic with him than without him."

Interesting notes on Jeffrey Dahmer - the serial killer from Milwaukee:
Dahmer appeared to be capable of the most horrific and unthinkable acts of indecency ever perpetuated by an individual. I can remember seeing excerpts of his trial in which the prosecuting lawyer raised the interesting discovery that Dahmer had not committed any acts of atrocity, nor had he even committed a misdemeanor against any local ordinances, during a two-year period from 1982-1984. The prosecutor wanted to know why that was the case. Dahmer responded from the witness box that during that period he was living with his grandmother and going to church every week. He was also reading his Bible regularly.

But the prosecutor pressed him. He wanted to know what happened in 1984 to trigger the worst phase of his behavior. And Dahmer's response was chilling. He simply said, "In 1984, my compass broke." ...What Dahmer meant was that his conscience suddenly ceased to function. He no longer knew the difference between right and wrong. What causes such dysfunction I can't begin to imagine.

"We all have a built-in compass that keeps us aware of the difference between right and wrong. When it breaks, we become capable of inordinate evil."


"This is the first step in becoming a partner with God: being prepared to be more realistic about your own inadequacy."


"We deserve to be cast from God's sight because of our sin, but based on his unquenchable love for us he creatively found another way. If you want to become one of God's partners, the only way is to recognize his grace in allowing Jesus to die in order to set you free from the penalty normally imposed on a sinful humankind."

Bono's description of the scandal of grace: the center of all religions is the idea of karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics, every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea of grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

"The cross causes some intellectual problems to those struggling to find faith; it also seems to arouse the resistance of even the most faithful. I think it has something to do with our refusal to accept forgiveness at so great a cost. If I know I am forgiven and all that it cost me was the life of a single goat, I can't see any reason to resist. But when the price of forgiveness is the life of the most wonderful and whimsical human being ever to walk the earth, it is harder to take."


If you truly desire to be a partner with God, you are called to believe two apparently contradictory ideas. First, you are a snake, a sinner, incapable of finding God's favor. Second, you can fly, knowing the extraordinary worth with which God sees you and on the basis of which he forgives you. In other words, you are a dragon.

These two opposing concepts, held in tension, make up the core of the Christian faith. There will be times in our lives when we appear to be more keenly aware of one concept than the other.