Jesus Gave Up

As a parent of two teenagers, I am regularly reminded of the difficulties inherent in high school settings.  I say that, as a parent, hearing their stories, as a youth minister, who heard many stories but also having been a teenager and remembering my own story.  Those are hard years for many and the scars don’t disappear easily for those of us who endured wounds.  While things have changed, there remains, I think, striking evidence one thing has not changed: a cultural demand for conformity.

At its healthiest, it is a reminder of “the golden rule” theme of “doing unto others what you want them to do to you.”  At its worst, it drives young people into unhealthy practices of coping that range from depression, to eating disorders, on to rage, and the numerous cases of suicide and murder.  I won’t post links, they should be simple enough to find.  This is not the point though.  I am interested in something else, namely, the wounds.

Morgan Guyton wrote recently about two views of sin.  I agree with Morgan maybe half the time but he always makes me think.  In this case, he reminds.  The reminding took me back to a lecture with Dr. Roberta Bondi at The Academy of Spiritual Formation held at Trinity Center in North Carolina.  If you know Roberta’s work, you’ll know it is in the ancient church, the desert mothers and fathers. In their experiences and writings, there is another theme for sin.  Want to guess what it is?  Wound.

My faith journey has stayed lined up in many ways with the Academy of Spiritual Formation and last week, I was privileged to lead the Five Day Academy we hosted in North Georgia which included Roberta as well.  And again I was reminded.  I was reminded that these same desert mothers and fathers saw judgmentalism as just about the worst sin you could commit.  

Wounds can be nasty, festering things.  The develop infections and on and on they go.  And when we sin, when we pass our judgment on someone else, we pass on the infection.  The woundedness starts to spread.  We get so used to living with infection, with our wound, it just becomes part of our everyday.

But this week’s text from 1 Peter 3:18-22 offers a path to healing.  “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous…”  Our wound effects all our relationships, with God and with each other.  We hide our wounds, even from the physicians, because often times to get well we must suffer pain.  I know this to be true as I have to watch my wife take chemo, willing taking a poison to kill the cells wounding her.  When we are wounded we have the tendency to lash out, to attack and often that is those closest to us.  So we wound other.  Wounds cause us to go “crazy thinking.”

Jesus however, brings the antidote.  He took our wound and woundedness and gave to us the chance for health, real holistic health - body and spirit.  Jesus redeems the entirety of creation.  He does it with an action which seems otherworldly to us. It is counter to what we've been taught. It is opposite of what conventional wisdom. Yet it is possible and it has been done by ordinary and extraordinary people through the centuries.

Jesus gave up.

But giving up for us is not a one and done activity. My faith journey really began when I gave up but it didn't end there either.  I’ve been doing a lot of giving up through the years and lately, I am coming to see how comfortable I am with my wounds.  I don’t want to give up anymore, really.  But the way forward, the way of the Christ is the way of giving up.

Give up. That is a narrow road indeed.


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