an uncomfortable gospel (revisited)

I wrote this a while back for Amber’s blog.  There are themes in it that we have been discussing, so I’m reposting it here.


I wish Jesus would have said, “it is easier for a camel to walk into heaven than for a rich man to walk through the eye of the needle.” Then, we could all move to the middle east and hitch a ride with the nearest caravan.

I wish Jesus would have said only “love the Lord your God with all your mind and strength.” Then, doctrine and moral uprightness would justify our exclusivity, our honor for a good Pharisee.

I wish Jesus would have said “render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesars and leave a tenth for me.” Then, by my estimation, I’d get to keep about sixty-five to seventy-five percent of my honest-day’s wage, depending on my current tax bracket.

I wish Jesus would have said, “go give your pops a proper funeral before you follow me.” Then, I could hold out until my dad dies.

I wish Jesus would have said, “unless you eat a cracker and drink some unfermented grape juice once every four months or so, you have no life in you.” Then ritual would take the place of metaphor, making my Sunday mornings much more appetizing, though admittedly less intoxicating.

I wish Jesus would not have said, “if any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sister, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Then, I could continue to elevate country, politics, holy wars, and my opinion of each over the homesickness of faith.

This space is difficult and uncomfortable. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot stretch myself thread-thin. I am part of a people. And we are all trapped between earth and the eye of a very small needle.

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6 Responses to an uncomfortable gospel (revisited)

  1. Matt Brock says:

    For a long time, and even at times still, the scriptures that essentially tell us that the narrow path is not ‘easy’ did nothing to comfort me. I suppose it should in some way. I think one of the hardest things about life is that once you know the truth, it’s hard to find the balance between of healthy emotions. I mean, to live in a place between hating yourself for what you really are and having complete peace in your new clothing of grace and mercy. Sometimes, no, most of the time, i don’t feel comfortable in these clothes because i still feel dirty underneath. That’s the struggle.

    There is a place for mourning; which i think is a natural reaction once you honestly look inside and come to terms with what God sees. Because truly, if we feel comfortable in life around friends and family, it’s usually not legitimate. It’s most likely a confidence in our ability to conceal the really nasty parts of ourselves from the world, and if nobody else knows then it’s not really a big deal, right?

    I think i understand the necessity of confession now. Confession brutally destroys my sense of confidence in my efforts at secrecy. There’s nothing more appealing than an empty and clean trash can. But, you can’t know what’s in there unless you take the lid off. There is no reason to wait, no good reason. That’s why he said to let the dead bury their dead. We were not created to live as dead, but to be raised–to be emptied and hosed out and sprayed we Febreeze.

    I relate to everything you said. Our first instinct is that life would somehow be easier if He hadn’t said………., but when i question it and do what is ‘easier’, i always end up going from a bad place to an even worse place. Every time. That tells me that my gut instincts are the problem. To censor and quote John Cusack from High Fidelity, “My guts have crap for brains.”

    • Matt Brock says:

      i wrote that fast so ignore the grammatical issues and verb tense problems. i rarely edit my writing on these spaces.

    • sethhaines says:

      This is good stuff, Matt.

      With respect to confession, James 5 is clear: “Confess your sins one to another so that you may be healed.”

      This passage has really resonated with me this year.

  2. Do you ever feel uncomfortable around people for different reasons though…something like this:

    I have been pondering how this year I miss heaven in an aching way as though I’ve been there. Like I had a moment or more there and was put back here to wait. (am I the only one who feels like this? please say no.)

    I can’t explain really why – though I know the unique experience of being a mother who lost a child this year definitely preceded this in me. Like all was stripped bare, taken away, so so much. All that was left was my eternal soul connecting to its Creator – and surrendering all else.

    I’m so uncomfortable sometimes with the tension between wanting to just be gone from this current “matrix” flesh-reality and from having to make an honest living and wash the dirty underwear. Between wanting to just lay around and talk about Jesus and step into His bedchamber and reside there, worship there, all the day long – and cleaning the floors and grocery shopping, being around people and chit chatting or talking about silly pretty things. 😉

    It seems to have made this narrow road all the more heartbreaking for me. Would it be too much to stand in the center of town and scream that they don’t realize what it will be like, they don’t realize how worth it the surrender is? Even this terribly hard surrender? I suppose some people have relegated themselves to just that. And I don’t see it as effective.

    Past our broken selves, past that – there’s this place of utter humanity, like so frail and so just – essence, and so His image that is like the best thing ever to realize *who we really are in Him*. Maybe that’s the redemption I’m tasting? That grace filled redemption that reminds us God doesn’t want us to carry the guilt of our sin after it’s confessed.

    Another ramble for you Seth, hope a couple words made sense…

    • sethhaines says:

      There is a lot here that is good. Sometimes I want to taste home too. Sometimes I think guys like Rich are the lucky ones, wanting something so badly and getting thrown from your Jeep right into the throne room. Sometimes I wonder if anything here is real, save Christ and/in us.

      • “Sometimes I wonder if anything here is real, save Christ and/in us.”

        Yes, daily.

        By the way – I hope my ramble didn’t sound…I don’t know what the word is. Obnoxious? I read it again and felt like it kinda was. But that wasn’t how I meant it at all. It’s just that this itchy skin is so uncomfortable – and when we have our new forms with our new names, that will finally be rest.

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