Another Christmas, “And we are not Saved”
We tend to think of sin as indulgence in sensual pleasure. Consequently we think of temptation, almost exhaustively, as the lure of self-indulgence in things that titillate our senses. This unfortunate and almost adolescent cheapening of a category so fundamental to the Christian faith and self understanding is both ruefully unfortunate and characteristically American. At the heart of this superficiality is the unwillingness of America to confront its historical and ongoing indulgence in sins of oppression, exploitation, violence, structured grinding poverty, narcissistic nationalistic idolatry, abominable hypocrisy and self-deception.
So much of the gospel and its relevance are shorn off to make it fit comfortably into the truncated framework of the largely white American myth. The myth of an America that robs, imprisons and persecutes a Black athlete for fighting dogs, and drops five thousand pound bombs on defenseless people in the service of a lie, calling ourselves heroes; framing themselves as the righteous avengers of the defenseless on one hand and the martyred saints of freedom on the other. Then, through the strange alchemy of self-righteous delusion, it all somehow becomes equivalent to a defense of the Christian faith, an affirmation of its core values, and a vindication of its truth. But this, my friends, is sin in the deepest sense. The lure to participate uncritically in this sick, and for some satisfying, delusion is true and diabolically seductive temptation. It is the darkest of stains and no matter how many “cheaters” you hold up to public ridicule, dog fighters you jail, or three strikers you throw away the proverbial key on or Black presidents we promote, there will never be enough to wash away the guilty stain. Can we be saved without redemption? Can there be peace without justice? Can there be either without truth?
There is no wonder that there is a profound cynicism in our society that, in its hysterical zeal, celebrates the shallow and calls it faith, leaving the larger questions of peace, justice, mercy and liberation to the contaminated hands of the profane who ply their wares in politics and public service.
“Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”
“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”(Isaiah 9:6-7)
A Friend of the Crucified,
Rev. Matthew V. Johnson Sr., Ph.D., National Director ECAPC