Tuesday, June 9, 2009

While contending for what's good, we must be vulnerable to evil

Cory Heidelberger of Madville Times posted some challenging questions about what efforts or means might be used to curb violent domestic extremists. I think he answers his own questions quite well when he writes that we really can't stop them in advance without becoming like them,

Such is the price we pay for being America, for choosing laws over tyranny.

On the church front, many of us in the mainline/oldline/sideline denominations kick ourselves for letting our fringe people run all over Scripture, tradition, church Canon Law and other sources of unity and boundaries. But we follow Christ, who never forced anybody to follow him and instead tells us to walk vulnerably.

The Apostle Paul reflects this in one of this morning's lessons from The Book of Common Prayer. He writes to a congregation that is rejecting his authority in favor of some slick hucksters who've come to town:

I repeat, let no one think that I am a fool; but if you do, then accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying in regard to this boastful confidence, I am saying not with the Lord's authority, but as a fool; since many boast according to human standards, I will also boast. For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves! For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone dares to boast of-I am speaking as a fool-I also dare to boast of that.
II Corinthians 16-21a

Paul notes that the he and his fellow missionaries were "too weak" to impose themselves by force - all they can do is appeal to the positive work they accomplished by staying with their core values.

We all want to fix problems and make things better. But the ever present temptation is to do so by "emergency" means that undo foundational values, commitments and protections that both hold us together and keep us from imposing ourselves on the God-given rights of others.

To love is to be vulnerable. If we claim to love anybody or anything - the human race, life, freedom, the Nation, the Church, the planet, whatever - we have to walk vulnerably. "Hard path, narrow gate" as Jesus said. And it is excruciatingly painful - but no shame on us if we've warned them - when deluded people run down the wide, easy road that leads to destruction.

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