Forgetting to Remember

Jesus said that he came to testify to the truth (John 18). He also said that those who continue in his word are true disciples who know the truth (John 8). It sometimes is the case that Christians can get it in our minds that since Jesus testifies to the truth and followers of Jesus know the truth, that we have sole access to Truth.

Beyond making it difficult to be in relationship with us when we believe we have sole access to Truth, we Christians are not very good at admitting we are wrong. How can we be wrong if we have access to the truth? How can Christian beliefs be wrong if our leader testifies to the truth?

Gil Bailie points out that the Greek word lēthe means forgetful. He notes that when you put an “a” as a prefix you get alētheia, translated as truth (as it is in John 8 and 18). Literally speaking this word means to not be forgetful, or to stop forgetting.

This means that living in the truth does not mean to speak with absolute and ultimate unquestionable correctness. Living in the truth means that we do not forget.

Photo by  James Hammond  on  Unsplash

Photo by James Hammond on Unsplash

We can be wrong and still be living in the truth, because living in the truth means we admit that we do not have the whole truth. Even that which we do “know” to be True, we hold lightly because we admit there maybe things we are unintentionally forgetting.

Living in the truth is one of the distinctions of the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. The kingdom of this world is more interested in forgetting than in remembering. As such, the kingdom of this world is not of the truth. The kingdom of God does not forget and thus is a kingdom of the truth. It may explain in part why the prophets emphasis remembering and why Jesus asks us to “do this in remembrance of me.”

The reality is living in the truth means that we admit we are wrong. We do not fear being wrong, in fact the Gospel proclaims that there is a joy in being wrong. As Bailie points out: “The joy of being wrong is that being wrong can be forgiven: it is insisting on being right that confirms our being bound in sin.”

And so on this week going into the beginning of a new year (Advent) consider the baptism vows which say:

We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin.

We accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.

We confess Jesus Christ as Savior, put our whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as our Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.

Let us not forget.

God Trusts Media

The media is often thought of in terms of newspapers, television, radio, internet, magazines, etc. However, "media" is the plural form of the word "medium." Newspapers, T.V., and radio are just singular examples of media. Media is not limited to these expressions because "media" is just the name we give to all the tools used to communicate to a wide audience. 

Media is neither good nor bad, however much we want to qualify "the media", they are only tools for communication.

When God communicates with creation, God uses media. Or put another way, God uses a number of mediums/tools to communicate with us. God uses Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience to be sure. However, to the Christian, the greatest medium God uses to communicate is Jesus Christ. And when Christ departed this earth, Christ trusted other human beings to be the media of the Gospel. 

We are the media of God's love.

We are the media that God trusts.

Middle Class Spirituality

Question: If you were asked to use one of these commonly used names for the social classes, which would you say you belong in? The upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, lower-middle class, or lower class?   Source: The University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant survey of 1,002 randomly selected adults nationwide, Jan. 22-Jan. 28, 2013.

Question: If you were asked to use one of these commonly used names for the social classes, which would you say you belong in? The upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, lower-middle class, or lower class?
Source: The University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant survey of 1,002 randomly selected adults nationwide, Jan. 22-Jan. 28, 2013.

Even those who are not actually in the middle class like to identify with the middle class. Sometimes you get qualifiers such as I am "upper-middle class" but it is all in relation to middle class. We demonize the highest 1% (and even more the .01%) of wealth holders and talk about how the lowest 1% are freeloading the system. We are frustrated when the economy does nothing for the middle class and if play a drinking game during a presidential debate only taking a sip when you heard any candidate say "middle class" then you would be passed out by the end of the first question. 

Jesus was not middle class, and yet we want to make him fit there. We pacify the hard messages of Jesus and down play his anti-empire and political positions. We give him good looks in movies and we ensure he looks well fed in art. He comes from a family that gave the sacrifice of the poor (pigeons) but we recreate the upper room feast like that of a Norman Rockwell painting. We are quick to "understand" his teachings and speak of them like he is directing them toward us in the middle class rather than to those on the margins. 

In fact Jesus was not the only spiritual leader that was from the margins. I don't know every story of every religious leader, but I am willing to bet that most religious leaders came from the margins and not the middle class of their time.

Christians give thanks to God for the incarnation of God in the life of Jesus. Perhaps it is worth further consideration that yes God was not born to a rich family, but also that God was not born to a middle class family.

Jesus is not middle class spirituality.

More on the coins of Caesar

To follow up from the previous post, Jesus is not talking about taxes

Marshall McLuhan was noted for saying a number of things about communication, perhaps none more famous than "the medium is the message". 

This next quote either is hyperbole or is exactly how McLuhan feels about the power of the medium when he says the content of a message "has about as much importance as the stenciling on the casing of an atomic bomb.”

The point being that the medium you use to convey a message carries more power than the content of the message. This is in part why when you talk bad about your family it is much more acceptable than if I talk bad about your family - even if we say the exact same words. This is another reason why people cite Bible passages in order to justify their positions. If you have the medium of scripture then it carries with is additional weight than if a person shares their thoughts. The medium is a very powerful voice in the message. 

And so when we read that Caesar would put his image on the coins of the empire, then the coin is the medium of the message of Caesar. Since coins are used in every transaction in all aspects of the Empire, since nothing can happen without the shiny head of Caesar being involved, the message of Caesar is clear - I am present everywhere and I am all powerful. My image is what makes it possible to do anything. I am the god of these parts and I will change the world through these coins. 

When Jesus reminds us that humanity is made with the image of God impressed upon us then it also is worth noting that we are the mediums of God message. And through this medium of humanity God's message is clear - I am focused on relationship not on economics. At times I am strong and at other times I am weak. I bleed and cry and shout. My image makes it possible for life to be made. I am the god of these parts and I will change the world though these people. 

You and I are God's medium for God's message. Christians articulate that the Good News is not just that Christ died for us but that God lived for us. God could have chosen any sort of medium to convey the Good News. God chose a human being.

And that medium, Jesus, changed the world. We do not have every word that Jesus said but the content of his message is as important as the stenciling on a bomb. It was his life that was the message. It was the way he lived that changed the world. 

McLuhan popularized it, but God created the fact that the Medium is the Message.