Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Ethic (date unknown)

As a general rule of thumb, supposing that such rules actually exist, I tend to avoid referring to the Cross (of Jesus) as a "scandal" or "scandalous". I could make a stink over here about people who do talk that way, but who wins there? To be as charitable as possible, my guess on the topic is that they choose to speak in such a fashion so as to sound strong or bold in their assertions. These same guys end up banging their gums over "radical discipleship", and then wax eloquent on the need for "transformed lives". They are pointing us to the faith, and we are to infer that the ethical aspect which they are conveying is a full tilt bozo, sold-out "committed-ness". . .or some darned thing.
  To describe trust as "radically transformative", and thereby to declare "the scandal" of the Cross, seems to me to suggest that we in the pews just aren't trying hard enough? If the desired result of such speech is to form firm and unshakable resolve in the hearer ("strong-faith" I'd deem it), the net result is nearly the reverse. We get a flabby, and basically content free; urging to arrive somehow at an abstract "level" of commitment. If you Mr. fireman are about to open up a 220 p.s.i. fire-hose, and you are warning me Mr. fellow-and-junior hose holder to "brace for the shock", I'd expect "commitment" in this case to be an unbreakable grip as wise on my part. But, in fact, the sad and small dribble out of the nozzle of the hose, says something has gone wildly over stated. If we two are side by side on the artillery crew feeding live rounds for sequential firing, then that big puff of wet smoke, that fizzle sound, and the round barely escaping the barrel, kinda makes me question the warning to hold my ears. "Scandal, radicalness, sold-outery", has a remarkably tame, inoffensive, and gutless "boom", a mighty dry "torrent" it appears.
  As viewed from a gen-u-wine high-school edu-ma-cated plumbing type of perspective, the truly odd aspect of gospel ethic is not some purported stoked-up jumping from the ledge style of single mindedness. No, it's just that the stinker appears to us ethics-disturbed; we ethical disaster zones, as so very un-ethical a thing! If, we wish to apply the word "scandal" in this context, we'd best mean by it; "a kind of righteousness plainly unrecognizable to us". But I fear that the commitment mentality of said usage is to suggest that the socially "up", those shots who are big, disapproved of such a crass and low, such an unseemly plus violent display in public as was our Lord's crucifixion. Who cares what those goons think?
  We, the ethic-ghetto-folk, imagine ourselves (?) to be in position (?) to judge (?) good ethic from bad? "Sheer lunacy"; would be the mild rebuff here. We wouldn't recognize true ethic if it came up and bit us in the butt; (which would be an odd thing for ethic to do in any case) and yet we claim "expert status" of all places, here? Puh-leeze. Cut-eth me some slack-eth Bozo.
  No sir, "scandal" simply will not do. Our (dumb) premise here is that ethic is first some kind of rules-based criteria. This being (supposedly) so, the far lessor social gauges of polite society, manners, and public image being violated by our King being hung naked on a tree after being beaten nearly to death, yields nearly the reverse of being sold out for Jesus. We get (strangely) a rebuilt and renewed  genteel "carefulness" both in speech and action, most especially if public. The ethic is not about achieving some plateau of correct behavior! That is why we consider it to be so very un-ethical!
  Face it, the central "problem" in the Bible has never been; "how might I more consistently abide by standards?". Rather,  it is much more; "given our base treason, criminally stupid record, and plainly unfit status, how might God both maintain His honor, justice and reputation, and also 'find a way' to allow us swindling frauds to live? How can He remain holy, just and true while tolerating, and forgiving such as us?". In brief, the covenant was and is not (primarily) about you! Start there.
 The covenant of grace is cut between the two contracting parties, the Father Almighty, and the Only Begotten Son. We keep imagining that it was cut between two abstract parties "God and mankind", and this is why we imagine our petty rule keeping to be so terribly ethical! At any rate, a "deal" is done, blood is demanded and paid, ownership is transferred, and all peacefully accomplished! The beautifully violent love between the Two is renewed, restored, and settled forever. The "divide" is "healed", the Son stands now, as we do, by "grace"! This covenant thing is a God-thing, a love-thing between the "two renewed as one" (so to speak). Covenant . . .ain't. . about. . .you! Some serious horse trading has gone on, and you. . .were bought! "They" did not "consult" you, so deal with it already.
  Specifically then it is deeply ethical for us to call our King by Name. That is, it is ethically sound to speak the Saviour's name "I AM . . . salvation" (YAH-shua) fully expecting Him to hear. Ethically then, He-alone is good, He alone is right, just and eternally so! It is quite ethical of us then to reckon Him as the forever Author, standing "behind" all authorities high and low, and we to be personally pleased that such is indeed the case.
  See, the ethic waxes eloquent on the glories of the King-sent, and His domain-come wherein the conquests of hearts in love preaches His excellency. It is quite right of us to expand upon the Captain of Hosts, His "transforming-life-giving; loving-force" (a.k.a. the Spirit sent) as He wins turf every day back to the True Owner. It is ethical to be glad, just here!
  You, I hope; get my drift over here. It ain't about us feeling all smug at not having robbed any liquor stores (lately). Our lousy rule keeping is precisely what is used as evidence against us! Not only do we dismally fail at keeping His standards, we can't even keep our own lousy sawed off rules.
  Ethic is like "A Tale of Two Cities". Or did you ever read "The Prince and The Pauper"? We love stories of mistaken identity. At root, the Cross proposes a "switcheroo", the deserving, wealthy; and sober brother is dismissed as if he were the slouch knucklehead. Bozo-boy (you I mean) is treated to the royal and glad "welcome home son! party". The deal was done, the switch is real, you are owned. Ethic is about Him! For hope, for friendship, for life, that bloody mess, our great-heart Champion is revealed to all creation, in us! The ethic. . . values. . .Him. Full stop.
  And our rotten twisted little hearts want to question even this? "What if, just what if "the deal" falls through? What if He realizes what a loser I really am, and wants out of the deal?" Ethic roars back, "Ain't gonna happen Mac!". The deal cannot collapse, not only does He lie-not, not merely is it that He fails-not; but far worse was sworn as blood oath. The Oath is maledictory, and to His own "damnation" He swore honor, should it ever for any reason fail, collapse or fade, in that case He inherits the curse!
  Newsflash, He died, became the accursed, and was sent away! It cannot collapse, because it already did! He emerged triumphant on the other side of that!
  Central then to ethic is the trust rightly owed Him. It is the very least we could reasonably do, and if you'd care to call that "scandalous"; knock yourself out. But as for man's sawed-off idiot rules? Park 'em, not interested. The ethic sings of Him, and that's enough for me.
 Welcomed for Another's sake, by Another's power, to Another's honor. Trust isn't some stupid blind leap, it's the (finally!) correct estimate of He Reliable, He True. To trust Him, is THE right thing for humans to do!
  Isn't it interesting that even the tiny version of covenant we are familiar with (marriage) is ratified by the words "I do"? The extremely brief version of the Bible reads; "Yeah, but do you trust Me?". Ethically, we say, "I do!".

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