I wrote this on September 19th, 2011, not long after my uncle passed away. I kept waiting to do more with it, but have decided that I did finish it after all.
My uncle passed away earlier this month and I got the call as we were driving down to see family. I’m already prone to introspective thought; I often get caught up in my own head, thinking about thinking and the like. And I had a lot of time to think about the news and what it means to me.
I’m not afraid of dying, not really. I am afraid of not living, of getting to the end of my life and feeling like I haven’t fully lived. I’m afraid of losing loved ones, of being left behind. I’m also afraid that my death won’t affect anyone, or that it will affect them too much. I know that as a Christian I’m not supposed to be afraid of death, that in the end, it’s victory. But for those loved ones who don’t share my faith, what about them? I don’t want to spend eternity away from them. And that sheds light on the fact that I’m afraid of sharing. The Gospel is offensive, Jesus’ teachings, while seemingly popular today, were not in his time. If you think about it, they’re pretty counter-intuitive. We’re supposed to love our enemies? We’re supposed to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us in the face? We’re supposed to forgive others, even if they don’t ask for or deserve it? As someone who grew up in the church, those virtues make sense to me. But I believe the flesh is sinful and fights against those teachings. I think we are naturally selfish beings, thinking about what I want and “need” and focusing on those things.
I think a prime example of that is when we drive. There’s a removal of relationship, as we sit in our boxes on wheels. We aren’t forced to look the other person in the eye and really see them as they are. I find that people, me included, are extremely selfish when it comes to crossing that intersection, or making that turn, or getting that parking spot. We honk, swear, gesture, and get red in the face. How different would those interactions be if the person you (or I) was speaking or reacting to could hear and see everything I was doing? And I don’t think it’s a matter of being polite, I think we just don’t care when it comes to those boxes.
So yes, I think we humans have a hard time living out the teachings of Christ. But that’s what makes everything so sweet when we are able to follow in His example. If we’re able to look back and say, “Yeah, I did my absolute best to be a reflection of His Love and Grace,” that means something. I know we’re supposed to live in humility, but I think it’s important to recognize when things have gone right. I feel that too often Christians are held under a microscope when everything is done wrong. And yes, there are a lot of screw ups, but part of that is our flawed human nature. (There is definitely responsibility for each individual to do what is right and so blame cannot be entirely placed on “flawed human nature;” credit where credit’s due, yo.)
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, yes, Jesus’ teachings are not easy to follow. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try or give up if it doesn’t always happen that way. There should be effort made. I like to think that God honors the efforts that we make to follow His ways, understanding better than we the flaws that we carry.