"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Everlasting Man

"The old trinity was of father, mother and son, and is called the human family. The new is of child, mother, and father and has the name of the Holy Family. It is in no way altered except in being entirely reversed; just as the world which is transformed was not in the least different, except in being turned upside-down." -G.K. Chesterton

These words from the Everlasting Man are a testament to the reality that Jesus had (still has) a tendency to turn things upside down when we least expect it. For thousands of years the original paradigm for the family stood, until a virgin birth shattered it to pieces...once anyway. For generations, Israel expected a King to throw off their oppressors, only to be shown a Man who would submit to evil in order to ultimately overcome it. These same people envisioned their Messiah sitting on the throne of David arrayed in purple robes and a golden crown. What they actually saw was him standing, fastened to a cross, stripped of his clothing, wearing a crown of thorns and thistles. Everything is backwards, reversed, upside down.

It was using this information and the sheer power of it, that the disciples of Christ are recorded to "have turned the world upside down." (Acts 17:6) Both the Jewish and the Gentile world, albeit for different reasons, never expected this and those who did not receive Christ did not like it. How could one Man's life and death...or rather, his death and life...change so much?

I wonder if we share this in common with the Jews and Gentiles of the Apostolic period. When we look around and see the darkness that shrouds our world, the shadows of sin blocking out all light, do we, even if our attitude would be one that accepts change, expect it? Can the world be turned upside-down again? Or, perhaps a more burning question, do we really want change? Do we want our world turned upside down for Christ? Or do we like dabbling in it too much ourselves? If that is true, than we need to ask the God who specializes in turning things upside down to change our hearts. Lent is a fantastic time for this.

But as he is purging us from unholy desires and conforming us to Himself, we should be about the business of reversing the curse, of flipping the status quo on its head. There are going to be those who do not like it. But then, there were those who did not like Jesus either. We should expect not to be liked. The same Jesus who turned the world upside-down can and, at least in an eschatological sense, will. But he chooses to use his disciples as the instruments of inversion. If we are really following Christ, we need to follow the pattern his life sets.

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