A Courteous Contrararian


Written By: Jon Jaroszewski - May• 25•15

When I think of the image I have of God, or at least of his actions and disposition, the word I think of first has come to be heroic.

My heroic God and our heroic God. Although my idea of heroic isn’t the same as most people’s idea. I imagine most of us think of a victorious God leading us to final victory because that’s what I used to think. Not that that’s wrong. He tells us he will be victorious and I for one believe him.  He will be victorious but I don’t think of it as heroic when I think of it in this way. The odds are overwhelmingly in his favor. Or so it used to seem.

But now, when I think of the battle as I see it in life and read about it in the Bible, it seems as though God is fighting against almost insurmountable odds. Because I think the battle is between God’s Good and Free Will. Someday God will make it all right. The lion will alternately lie down and graze with various animals and we’ll live in peace and justice. But I don’t think he’ll take away our free will, ever. We’ll want to put our hands into snake’s nests when we’re babies.

If God never takes away our freedom and yet turns us into peaceable creatures, that would have to be the biggest miracle ever. Bigger than the Big Bang.

NT Wright tells the story of the Bible in somewhat this way: God created all things good and perfect and at first humanity got along swimmingly until Adam and Eve were ambushed by the Serpent of unparalleled Wisdom and Beauty. God’s answer was to work through Abraham and his seed who became God’s chosen people.

The only problem with God’s solution was that his chosen people could never seem to fulfill the role he had laid out for them. He gave them the Law. He dangled blessings and curses. Because that is what you do when you’re dealing with people who have the freedom to choose one or the other. But they were a stiffnecked people for the most part, just like the people they were supposed to convert. The propensity to sin is common to all of us. That’s why Paul says, in the part of the sentence we never quote, There is no difference between Gentile and Jew for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [Rom 3:23-4 NIV]. 

So the problem was that there was little difference in the things that counted between the Jews and the rest of the world. (I’ve heard the same charge leveled against us.) But God had (according to NT) the rest of his plan to yet enact. He reserved a remnant for himself. And the remnant kept getting smaller. It was down to eight thousand by the time of Elijah. By the time of Jesus, it was pretty much down to Jesus and the apostles. And then, there on the cross, it was down at last to Jesus alone. He was the final remnant of Israel, a nation of one. He at last fulfilled Israel’s destiny. He didn’t partake of sin, for Sin was the problem from Adam ever after until him. He was the Hope of Israel and Israel’s Consolation. He was Israel personified. This is the reason we can read the servant passages in Isaiah and know they are about Jesus while the Jews read them and know they are about Israel.

And then he took our sins on his own back, and not only our sins but the sins of the whole world. That’s heroic to me.

Other people have other ideas of heroic. Think of Martin Luther King or Gandhi. Passive action in the face of overwhelming odds is heroic. But in the same vein, King and Gandhi have nothing on God. He, from the beginning has turned passive action into an art form. The finest example ever is the cross. It is how God works. By dying for us he made a public spectacle of the powers. He has not only achieved the victory, he embarrassed his enemies. Not by slaying them with a sword but by giving up everything he had.

Or how about the single parent that has no time for anything than kids, work at home, and work at work. The mom with no time for herself, that pours her love into her children. That’s just what God does, that’s what God is like. He ours his love into us, heroic.

There’s the epitome of bravery and heroism, the soldier who unthinkingly falls on the grenade to save his friends’ lives. Jesus fell on a hydrogen bomb, deliberately, after an eternity of contemplating something so scary and foreign as Sin and Death, with no way for him to imagine how terrible it was going to be.

The longsuffering of God. His patience with us. His love for us in spite of what we are. Heroic, heroic, heroic.

Giving of himself in every moment, fighting what seems like overwhelming odds, functioning with grace and elan. always optimistic, always working to bring the best out in others. God does it silently, uncomplainingly, eternally.



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