Christian Life

Pete Rollins, WW II and Orthokardia

The following is a repost from September 2012 - I thought I would try a few repos to see if it is helpful.

Some time ago I wrote about moving away from the dichotomy of orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right action). Rather than placing emphasis on beliefs and actions, Christians are called to emphasis the heart. Thus to abandon orthodoxy and orthopraxy is to embrace orthokardia.

Peter Rollins shared a story about how the Prime Minister of England during WW II fearing defeat was told of two ways the war could end. The first is the "natural" end to the war which would entail 10,000 angles coming upon the earth and destroy the Nazi war machine with swords of fire. The second way the war could end was the "supernatural" end which would entail 50,000 Englishmen parachuting into the heat of battle and drive out the Germans.

The point that was made by Rollins in light of this story was that the angles are natural in that they would be measurable. Swords, fire and angels fall into the natural because you would be able to see them and measure them. We all know the war did not end this natural way. Rather it ended in the supernatural.

Thousands of Englishmen had a change of heart and courage swell up within them to provoke them to parachute into danger. This is supernatural because you cannot see a change of heart. You cannot measure courage. And yet this is what happened. It took the supernatural to end the war.

Likewise, orthodoxy and orthopraxy are natural. You can see "right beliefs" you can measure "right action". You cannot see a right heart. You cannot measure orthokardia. Orthokardia is supernatural.

Why Bartimaeus matters

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.”Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. - Mark 10:46-52

Talking about this text with my wife and co-pastor, she mentioned how commentaries point to this story as a story of great discipleship. And it is. 

But why?

This was the question she and I thought about for a bit. Then something dawned upon me, it is this insight that I want to share.

It could be imagined that as a blind person, Bartimaeus was always following people. He had to in order to survive. he had to follow people to food, water and even the temple. Being blind at this time meant that you were, by definition, a follower. 

And so when Bartimaeus was healed and able to see, he no longer was bound to be a follower. He could find his own food, water and place of worship. He was free to be a leader for the first time in his life free from following anyone. And yet, Bartimaeus chooses the life of a follower even though he is no longer dependent as he once was.

Choosing to relinquish freedoms is the ultimate expression of freedom. Christianity is about choosing to follow Christ when you do not have to.

We call that freedom in Christ. 

What heaven looks like

For some people, heaven has streets of gold. That sounds great. But how is God supposed to make streets of gold if humans hold on to all the gold.

For some people, heaven will reunite us with family members. That sounds great. But how are we to be reunited then if we are unwilling to reconcile with people now?

For some people, heaven will be a place of peace. That sounds great. But how will there be peace then if we are convinced of the power of war now?

Whatever your vision of the afterlife is can only be made complete by what your actions of today are. 

Liberals who watch FOXNews - uncomfortable on purpose

Scripture is often a source of great comfort for many people. When there is a funeral you can but there will be a reading from Psalm 23. When you hear 1 Corinthians 13 is read, 93.6% of the time you are at a wedding. When there is tragedy in real life or in a play, you can find scripture be a source of strength and comfort.

In the same breath, scripture is also the source of great discomfort. When Jesus tells the people to sell all they have and give it to the poor. When we read about God destroying people and nations. Where there is a difficult teaching for which there is no simple answer, you can find scripture to be a source of discomfort.

We watch the news to be comforted. This is why conservatives will watch FOXNews and liberals watch MSNBC. We watch the news in order to hear others tell us that our worldview is correct. We love to hear our side is correct and the other side is wrong and idiotic.

For many Christians, we tend to read scripture like we watch the news. We choose the places that we like that affirm our worldview. We choose the places that provide us comfort and provide discomfort for others. We choose our own canon which we feel is "truer" or "more in line with God" than other scripture.

Do yourself and the world a favor - read the discomforting scripture. Watch the "other" news channel. Allow for the possibility that you may be wrong. The irony is that by listening to only the sources that bring us comfort, we actually harden our hearts through the phenomena of expectation confirmation.