I’ve had theological ideas floating around in my head a lot lately. Mostly, I’ve been reading the first few epistles of Paul. Sometimes, I’ll read this or that blog, and come back to Romans or second Corinthians, and I’ll say to Paul, “You da man. Sometimes I think you and me are the only ones who ‘get it'”.
Of course this isn’t true (egomania is not beyond me). But, perhaps it’s the nature of blogs to run counter to the gospel of freedom. After all, if we werent all sitting around wagging our fingers at one another, what would we talk about?
But, I look at Eliot Spitzer, and all I feel is pity.
Being a crusader over long periods of time has got to be exhausting. With each new crusade, with each episode of pointing out the evil and corruption of others, the burden on oneself becomes ever greater and greater. As the years pass, the pressure to appear “good”, in order to continue to point out others as “bad”, becomes almost more than one can bear. The scale we use to judge others is always there in the corner, waiting to be used against us.
When goodness is defined as a list of rules that must be followed, what a toil life becomes! Whether those are religious rules, or political principals, or any number of “ist” definitions of goodness, or a list of environmental actions, or even the Christian concepts of mercy and forgiveness – when one becomes the arbiter of “good” in these matters, he has placed a yoke around his own neck. It is only a matter of time before the word is uttered: hypocrite.
The gospel I share with people, the one the apostle Paul speaks of, is one that sets us free from all that. You can call me many things, but one thing you cannot call me is a hypocrite. This is because my starting point is this:
I compare myself to the only perfect One, and I realise my own suckiness. I am an egomaniac, I am not beyond being manipulative, I envy, I lie, I lust. On my own, I’d really rather not be bothered with helping the poor. I am prone to guttony and hoarding and drunkenness. Like I said, I suck.
Any goodness I have in me is a gift I cannot claim as my own.
Do you have any idea how liberating this knowledge is?
And, the more I admit my own suckiness, the more something within me moves me to want to do right. This is what we Christians call the Holy Spirit, working in me. I cannot save the world, but Jesus can. But first, He has to inhabit my body, like some scif-fi body snatcher.
When one realises that there isn’t a lick of difference between himself and a homeless man, when he can see his own reflection in the most wretched criminal, when he ALSO realises he is no different from the rich and powerful (their pain is no less real than anyone else’s) , he is free to love all of them as he would himself.
You can continue crusading, if you will. But, I know from experience, that’s a burden that none of us can bear for too long.
You can be free.