Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time to Start Over

It’s time to write again. I’ve tried a couple times to sit and write something meaningful for this blog, but the words (like the gas in my idle lawn-mower) have grown gummy. Maybe I’m trying too hard.

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, it feels like life started over again this Easter (or Pascha, for you Orthodox out there).

My wife and I broke our fasts (meat, dairy, iPod, etc.). We celebrated by feasting with my wife’s side of the family. My brother-in-law was chrismated and officially entered the Orthodox Church. We stayed up way past bedtimes to celebrate the Resurrection with his new church family and slept it off well into Sunday afternoon.

The Resurrection has never felt so real to me. Honestly, it’s one of the hardest things to believe as a Christian. Right up there with the Trinity, and the fact that God, the Word, became man. But it’s true. I can’t think of any other reason why the disciples and apostles would risk their lives defending it.

The topic of torture has been a prevalent one in our country as of late. What constitutes torture? If we’ve crossed the line, who’s to blame?

In the time of Christ (pre-Geneva Accord), no one was worried about human rights violations. Most, if not all, of the people who appear in the New Testament were persecuted or martyred in one way or another. Why? I’ve often thought, naively, that I could undergo and endure torture for my faith or for my country. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I would crumble if I were whipped or beaten, or had my hair pulled out, or were water boarded.

I’ve often fancied that I would die, but never kill for what I believe, or for my family and friends. I have a romanticized view of men like Desmond Doss who served valiantly in the Army while refusing to bear arms. But the simple truth is that I’m more like a bashful Peter, denying Christ when questioned by, of all people, a little girl. I’m more like a self-serving, duty-dodging Mark Twain than a courageous Thomas Bennett.

I love the religious freedom we enjoy in this country, but I can’t deny that it has made many a weak Christian. It has, in many ways, made Christianity fashionable, or at least harmless and tolerable, if not a little annoying. What a shame! I’d rather be highly offensive in defending the truth, than kind and considerate, but deceived beyond all measure. Granted, many Catholics, Anglicans, Quakers, and others spilled their blood on our soil, but by-and-large they didn’t die defending the truth of the Resurrection or the humanity and divinity of Christ; they died defending their political rights. They are still martyrs, but on a different level.

I’d like to go back and talk to those early Christian martyrs (Paul, Peter, Justin Martyr, or Cecilia) and take a little of their fire back home with me. When brought into the torture room, Jesus didn’t condemn, didn’t try to get out of it (unless you call “not my will, but Thine” an attempt at getting out of it), didn’t even beg his persecutors to stop. He bore it with almost complete silence. May we all bear silently, without grumbling or condemning, the crosses we have to bear, trusting and praying that they will be turned into victories, knowing that “if we die with Him, we will also be raised with Him”.

"Behold, I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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