DayBreaks for 3/20/18: Between a Rock and Heaven
From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:
Some people have trouble making decisions about even the most trivial of things. I’ve had the dilemma myself. Just today when I went to the Burger King (not something I do often!), I was torn between getting the Angus steak burger or Tenderoast chicken. I would have preferred the steak burger, but went for the chicken so I wouldn’t feel as guilty. Silly, isn’t it?
There are decisions that are not trivial at all. Who to marry? What career to pursue? What home to buy is a pretty big one, too. We make other important decisions sometimes by default and without a lot of conscious thought: who will be my friends? I can’t remember ever really asking myself that – it seems that my friends are my friends because we’ve spent time together and it just turned out that way rather than as the result of a conscious decision.
As we near Holy Week, let’s not forget these words from Henri Nouwen (“A Spirituality of Waiting,” The Weavings Reader): “Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the Good News to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say yes or no. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: He had to wait upon how people were going to respond.”
Nouwen is right: up until Jesus showed up on Holy Week, the people really had little to choose from. There were plenty of rabbis, of course, but only One who made the kinds of demands that Jesus was about to make on them. Up until he arrived on the scene, people had no choice to speak of: they could choose between sin or a life spent trying to perfectly live the law. Neither were very attractive nor would either yield good results. One was destined to lead to shame, degradation and dissolution, while the other would lead to frustration, guilt, discouragement and failure. But when Jesus offered something different during and after Holy Week, people for the first time had a choice.
Jesus also said that he came to bring a sword. A choice is much like a sword – it will cut things and make them separate. There can be no middle ground, there is no living in the space that the sword cut through. You must be on one side or the other. It’s not popular these days to be exclusionists, but that’s what Jesus was. “You are either for me or against me” and “I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.” As much as we might wish it were otherwise, that’s the plain and simple truth. We don’t do anyone favors when we soft pedal the choice that Jesus puts before us – in fact, if we do soft pedal it, we are doing people a great disservice.
We must say either yes or no to Jesus. The world is waiting to see what we’ll choose. And we need to put that choice in front of the world, too.
PRAYER: Lord, give us hearts and minds of wisdom that when we hear Jesus’ invitation to choose, we will make the right choice that leads to life eternal. Give us the courage of the truth to speak the truth about the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.