Saturday, April 03, 2010

Called to love even when I don't want to

This week, while watching the movie Jesus Christ Superstar (released in 2000, with Glen Carter as Jesus, Jerome Pradon as Judas and Fred Johanson as Pontius Pilate, not the 1973 version), I was struck by how much and how easily I could sympathize and even identify with Judas and Pilate. A lot of this is due to Pradon's and Johanson's powerful acting, but they showed me the humanity within two of the ultimate icons of evil. In seeing their vulnerabilities, their fears, their twisted logic, I could see my own betrayals and attempts to absolve myself of responsibility. Granted, there is a difference in scale, but it's still falling short of the glory of God.

If I could see the good, or at least the desire for something good, in the people I've judged from another age, if I could see myself in them, I had to ask if I could do the same thing with people from now. Can I see the quest for good in Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Fred Phelps? I'm not saying they're the Pilate and Judas of today. The circumstances and arena are so different. I've definitely judged them though, questioned their methods and motives, and felt the heat of anger and disgust for them as I have for Pilate and Judas.

Yet, as a Christian, I'm called to love them. If I am to take the directions of my God seriously and live up to calling myself a Christian, I have to do this. I've been lucky in life to have very few personal enemies, so being called to love them has rarely been tested. Yet when I expand the definition of enemy, the challenge grows. It's time like this that I truly know Christianity is not an easy path. How do you love someone whose words and actions you've found reprehensible? And just how reprehensible has my own behavior been?

I believe with gratitude that I've been forgiven by grace, not by own efforts. I could not have earned forgiveness, and neither can those whose actions part of me wants to put beyond forgiveness. That puts us in the same boat. That's not too comfortable, and it makes me marvel at a God who can truly forgive.


Blogger david a holgate said...

Thanks for this thoughtful post.

April 03, 2010 4:31 PM  

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