Friday, April 03, 2015

Holy Week thoughts: Good Friday 2015

“What more to give – or take?”

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  My heart is like wax; it has melted within me.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue clings to my jaw.  You have brought me to the dust of death.  Dogs have surrounded me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed me.”  Psalm 22:14-16a

Do you ever have those days when, no matter how right you try to do, someone seems determined to undermine you?  Or you make an honest mistake, and you are still raked over the coals?  Even in the church, those whom you thought to be your fellow workers and friends turn on you and seem to go out of their way to make sure even those outside the Church should come and try to get a piece of you?

In nearly every church across the land, there are what are known as “clergy killers” who come in many different forms.  It seems to be their lot to make life and ministry for the pastor as miserable as possible.  It doesn't really matter whether there is a particular issue at stake for the church.  It is the “clergy killer’s” mission in life to make the pastor’s life as uncomfortable as possible – and often for reasons not fully known or justified.  Sadly, very often the church remains silent, figuring it’s none of their business – or in the vain hope it will go away. 

Yet it is not just clergy and family who suffer.  The entire church suffers when that “killer’s” friends pretend allegiance to the “killer” by refusing to participate in the life of that particular church, but the reality is they are staying away because of the toxicity advocated and joyfully spread by that “killer”.  They cannot be sure whether or when that “killer” will turn his or her guns on them!  Sign up for that??  Only a fool would knowingly and willfully walk into such a poisoned environment.

By now Jesus is facing the very same thing.  Those who were once His “friends” have become “killers”.  Not the religious leaders who were never His friends nor the secular authorities to whom Jesus was handed.  These may be directly at fault for Jesus’ crucifixion, but those indirectly involved must not be so easily let off the hook.

Simon Wiesenthal, in his book, “The Sunflower”, asked the haunting question he observed during his time as a Jewish POW in Nazi-occupied Poland: “who is the guiltier; the one who directly commits the sin or the one who turns a deliberate blind eye to a known sin and remains silent?”  The throng of people who were demanding Jesus be crucified had once hailed His entry into Jerusalem as though He were a conquering hero; now only a few days later they wanted Him dead.

What makes “believers” turn so easily to the point of intentional destruction of another human being?  Is such hatred possible in the heart of one who claims to have been “saved”?  Whether or not they were “really” saved is too easily ascertained when these individuals turn so foul, but it still does not explain why we humans – even Christians – seem to take such perverse delight in “bringing someone down” by going along with these foul and hateful persons – or worse -  remaining silent by refusing to confront these “killers”.

These are the compelling questions of Good Friday.  If we are “rejoicing” on such a dark day, even with biblical hindsight on the value of Jesus’ blood, there may be our first clue as to how we can turn so easily.  The question is left, however: how far are we willing to go to satisfy our own insatiable thirst for blood?

The Lord alone knows.      

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