Devotional Thought for the Day:
10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness. Leviticus 16:10 (NKJV)
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21 But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate *said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all *said, “Crucify Him!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!” Matthew 27:19-23 (NASB)
It may be that I am just becoming more aware of it in my own life, but I am becoming more and more concerned about the need for a Messiah figure.
Not the messiah who would save us, but the man or woman’s who sacrifice would convince us that all is okay in our world. The sacrificial victim, the one in the old testament which is described as the scapegoat – the one who is sent away, and then everything is made righteous.
Colin Kaepernick is the most recent one people would crucify. During the Olympics, there were several that gained infamy, and we would crucify them willingly. There are those who would blame and want to make scapegoats our of the BLM movement, others who simply want to blame the police. Some want to blame those who would find refuge in our country; others want to blame those who would build fences and protect the dream – by denying it to others. I could go on, as we look at how people treat presidents and presidential candidates, other politicians, and even going back to Henry VIII’s famous line about lawyers. We’ll blame teachers, parents, society, something – we have a desire to make something our sacrifice.
We want a scapegoat, we want someone to take away our problems, we want someone to blame as if that will cause everything to be alright, to be okay. Leaders and the media will do as the priests and elders did, calling on us to crucify those they point to, and so desperate for hope, we will echo their chants, share the news articles, share the meme’s without checking the truth, or considering the results.
What is often happening is what we see in the old fable called “the Emperor’s New Clothes.” We do not realize we have made something in our life a sacred cow, an idol, something to be protected and defended because we base our hope on it. We count on it for comfort; we expect that if our hope is true, we will know peace. And these goals let us down, and we come face to face with the problems, and we end up defensive and in despair.
And we want to find something else, someone else to blame.
if someone attacked our idols, if they reveal our idolatry,m our nakedness and shame, they become the perfect target. We will gladly become hypocrites, liars, and even those who cry “crucify him” to return to our former blindness, our former state of being illusioned. Our former sense of self-righteousness. The man who points out our brokenness, our sin, and what is shameful becomes the target. Real problems for sure, but the person we nail for it, they aren’t to blame. But their suffering blinds us to our own. Because their being crucified, their reputations suffering alleviates our need to deal with our real problems.
We want to turn him into another messiah, and hopefully, this time, the scapegoat won’t return, the crucified sacrificial victim won’t rise again.
We’re pretty sure he can’t – after all, he’s not the Christ.
We need to stop hiding behind our illusions, they don’t change the reality. We need to deal with the brokenness in our lives, in our families, our society, and yes in our churches. We need to stop trying to find a scapegoat, another person to crucify and instead celebrate the one that we needed to be crucified was. For the victim we needed to find, we don’t have to draft a new one. There was One, Jesus the one who was chosen and annointed by God to die for us.
He also rose from the dead.
Because of that crucifixion and resurrection we will heal from our brokenness, we are giving His righteousness to wear, His spirit to dwell within us. We are made whole, and we know His peace, a peace that we we can’t understand, peace in the middle of brokennes.
He died, and no one else has to be crucified.
He rose and all of us who know Him, who trust in Him will rise.
Even those we wanted to crucify…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. 17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. Ephesians 2:14-18 (NLT)
“Obviously, he said, it is not always easy to walk the path of faith with other people. “Sometimes it’s tiring. It can happen that a brother or sister creates problems for us or scandalizes us, but the Lord entrusted his message of salvation to human beings, to us, to witnesses,” he said.
“It is through our brothers and sisters with their gifts and their limits,” the pope said, “that he comes to us and makes himself known. This is what belonging to the church means.” (1)
Back in college, I had a class in dramatic literature. (hey it was a better option than Shakespeare – or so I thought) One of the things we had to do was tell a story in mime, which meant we had to learn to mime. You know the pull the invisible rope, imitate some poor victim walking by the class, and of course the infamous idea of being locked in the invisible box.
I was thinking about that this morning, as I read the passage from Ephesians this morning in my devotional reading. It was probably Paul’s image of a wall, but somehow I pictured being back in the class, and my struggle to be a mime…..you see, I had trouble finding the invisible wall. Is it 2 feet away, 28 inches? Sometimes closer, sometimes farther, I just couldn’t find the perception to discern the wall.
It has been said, from everyone from Tony Campolo thirty years ago, to the latest church growth theorists that the church is the most segregated group in the USA, and Sunday mornign 9-12 is the most segregated time in the week. Not just because of ethnicity, but because of age, music preference, language barriers, culture, and too often – what my denom brotherhood called “non-essentials” and what my Lutheran brethren call “adiaphora. Where we fail to surrender our freedoms, not because someone opposes them, but because we want to protect what we prefer.
But for those of us in Christ, those walls are as much an illusion as the walls that box the mime in; that which restricts us is but our own perceptions, and not reality.
For those walls are based in the sins of idolatry, or hatred, of believing the worst about those that we think are unlike us. For those walls exist because we have been taught to be afraid of, for those that we have to extend pastor our comfort zone.. We’ve been told we don’t have to change our music, our vocabulary, just as the jews were told they didn’t have to change their diet, or which day they worshipped. But we can change those things, in view of Christ ministering to those, we can change them in love, We can be patient with each other, sacrificing, not the Jesus who brings us together, but those things we really can’t divide us, as we dwell in Christ. Walls that needed to be broken down and nailed to the cross in the first place.
Can’t we realize, if we have found our life in Christ, then we can abandon that which we thought defined our life? Can’t we treat those walls, like the mime does, at the end of his show, and simply ignore them? Can’t we simply look to Christ, and in our weakness, be transformed to where we realize we are One? That we are called to live in love, even when that love means we sacrifice for others? As Pope Francis points out – the church isn’t optional, and he isn’t talking about just belonging to a congregation, but the Church – all of it. Where God calls us together with our
Our hope is in Him, in a place where walls do not exist. Where sinners are gathered, granted repentance and love and mercy… and find themselves to be one in Christ.
May we realize this reality sooner than later, as we realize the Lord is with us all.
(1) Pope Francis, public Address, 6/25 http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1402635.htm