Radical thought: If you’re not losing status, you’re not living the Gospel. Jesus was demoted all the way to the cross.—
Christopher Cocca (@ccocca) August 24, 2012
I tweeted that right before I saw all the Lance Armstrong news. I don’t know if he doped or didn’t, but I admire his ability to say, “enough is enough.” I’m becoming committed, spiritually, to not advocating for myself, to not defending myself in the face of criticism. It’s a discipline. Armstrong is hitting those notes in his statement, I think. I appreciate that.
I’ve taken Paul’s notion of being hidden in Christ to heart over the past few months. It reminds me that only God sees the heart, that people’s negative responses to us, no matter the circumstances or reasons, often have nothing to do with us. We can’t judge others because we can’t fully see them. Neither are we fully seen. The things going on in the spiritual background, what Karl Rahner called the transcendental existential, these are the real things, the hidden in Christ things. I don’t mean to suggest a dualism of spiritual = real and physical = false. But I do believe God alone is fit to judge, and that God alone sees the thing in itself, the I and thou in each of us.
My inner Anabaptist feels somewhat conflicted. My heart’s desire for justice and my heart’s longing for the succor of trusting only in God’s own defense. And then, the balm: Jesus was demoted all the way to cross, never defending himself. Only poured himself out, only taught that the first shall be last, the last shall be first, the crooked places made straight and the high places leveled. What does it mean to be hidden in him? What does it mean to be saved?
Only this: we are saved in the cross because on it, Jesus gives his most compelling command. “Lose your life to find it. Trust in God, trust also in me.” By subverting the conventions of strength and glory, Christ frees us from the temptation to define ourselves by the familiar terms of an unjust, untenable world. If our strength is in weakness, indeed, made perfect by it, we have been saved from having to save ourselves. We have been saved from the frenzy of having to prove ourselves, from the seduction of power, from sundry shallow, vain measures of good.
In this sense, Jesus saves me every day. In this sense, he is still saving the world. Behold, he makes all things new.