Thursday, April 16, 2009

Passion of the Christ and American Politics

Happy Easter! When we hear that, if we're adults (and Christian) we know on some level that this is meant to be a time to reflect on Christ's choice to give his life for our salvation. We know that it is to represent His resurrection 3 days later. But if we're all being honest, I think most all of us would say that when we think of Easter we think of bunnies and little girls with frilly dresses and kids hunting for colored eggs. And kids: they just see the candy. I'm guilty myself.
My family and I sat down to watch The Passion of the Christ this Easter Sunday. I had seen it, and I had been moved before. But our pastor mentioned it in church that morning, and my 9 year old asked if we had it and could watch it. Before we left church, we visited an exhibit that they had there of museum quality displays of items from Christ's crusifixion. They had a true crown of thorns that we were able to hold in our hands and truly take in. Like all of the other kids, my 9 year old kept touching the thorns and poking himself and freaking out at how sharp they were. There was a life size cross that we could touch. They had a "cat of nine tails" whip, complete with shards of bone and metal for all of us to hold and feel the tips, imagining what damage was done to our Saviour with such an instrument. The robe and the dice were there. The bread and wine was there, and finally, they had a velvet pouch of silver coins. It should be noted that the pouch with the coins in it wasn't a big favorite amongst the kids. It looked kind of boring, I think. Who wants a few pieces of silver when there are weapons or sharp things to look at? Granted, they did take note of what the sign said about it being 30 pieces of silver, but it didn't get any of the oohs and aahs the other displays got.

Fast forward to a few hours later when we were sitting on the couch watching the crusifixion story unfold before our eyes. If you've seen the movie, you will remember it has subtitles. My 9 year old was afraid that he would miss something if he had to read it himself, so he asked me to read the words aloud for him. I highly suggest you try that. Reading of what happened to Christ is extremely moving, but saying those things out loud to a child touches you on a level that I didn't know existed. As each item from the exhibit came to light, a deeper understanding of the reality of the situation shone on my son's face. He saw the pouch of silver and grew visibly outraged with Judas, even calling him names and saying how stupid he was for doing such a horrible thing, "FOR THAT???" When Jesus was "chastized" with the cat of nine tails, among other things, it was not some theoretical event for this 9 year old. He had held and touched one the same morning. When the crown of thorns was rammed into Jesus' scalp, that too, was "real" for Zackary. He had just been holding one a short while before, and I think he could still feel the pricks in his own fingers.

All of us were taught as children, that "sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us." We probably teach it to our own children as well. But I must tell you, that what disturbed Zackary the most about the mistreatment of Jesus was the laughing and mocking of the Roman soldiers and the followers of Jesus who didn't say anything until it was too late. "Why don't they stop?" he kept asking. And I think then and there, it became clear to me that words and the smallest of actions, DO HURT. And a lack of words hurts just as bad. I look around at society today and everything from gay marriage to abortion is touted as being "ok" by even men and women who claim to be, "of the cloth." I was told by a female pastor who I went to grade school with that, "the Bible doesn't reference abortion, so it doesn't take a stance either way." Sure, she said that any abortion was a tragedy, but still thinks that any woman who wants one should be allowed to have one. She blogs about and supports gay marriage, I presume "in the name of God." I am unfairly picking on her at this point, but she is not an abstract media source, she is someone I knew once upon a time. I don't think that she is alone in the least. Far too many "Christians" claim to love God, but when we see things that spit in the face of our Saviour in society, in politics, and in the media, we mutter something to ourselves and then steer clear of those people. Why don't we stand up against it? Why do we allow it to continue to go on? We have allowed those in the media to literally laugh at and mock Jesus, just as those Roman soldiers did so many years ago. America, God love her, just elected a president who used as a campaign line, that people, "cling to guns or religion." In my opinion, and in my heart of hearts, every vote for Obama, after such a statement, was someone spitting in the face of a bleeding and battered Christ, who was knowingly and willingly walking for miles to die for the same people's salvation.

Why, as a society, do we think it ok for our elected leaders or those in power to look down on our clinging to religion in one breath, and then claiming to be religious persons themselves, in another breath. These people, in my observation, are wearing their religion like a sweater. When the winds change, they easily remove that sweater because it isn't convenient to them. And if they feel a nip in the air by way of poll numbers, they call upon the designer of the sweater, trying to remind everyone that they are still card-carrying Christians, even if everything that they publicly support goes against Christianity. I am not trying to be judgemental here. I am truly concerned for our future. I feel sick to my stomach when I think of how Jesus must feel when our citizens mock him and those who follow him. He told us that it would happen, so I shouldn't be surprised. I am just sad that more of us don't stand up against it, that's all. It wouldn't take much. There are people willing to run for office who do stand for Christian values, and if we Christians would push more, there would be an incentive for them to put themselves out there for us.


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