Got a case of a love bipolar...
'Cause you're hot then you're cold
You're yes then you're no
You're in and you're out
You're up and you're down
You're wrong when it's right ..."
Katy Perry's lyrics always give me something to think about. (My first post was a reflection on her "I Kissed a Girl.") This evening I find them to be a perfect segue for discussing those words from Jesus two posts back, ""I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16). Everyone holds up signs reading "John 3:16;" but why not Revelation 3:16? I ask that rhetorically. It's easy to see why not - most Christians prefer a caricature of Jesus to the actual Person recorded for us in Scripture. We prefer an imaginary Jesus, who forgives our failings but makes no demands. The imaginary Jesus never gets upset - unless it's at religious bullies, and they've got it coming, don't they? He came to relieve suffering (because pain, not separation from God, is the ultimate evil) and to teach us that if we'll just be "tolerant" enough of everyone else's opinion (translation = truth does not exist in fact, but is what we individually believe it to be), peace will finally come.
That is NOT the Person we find in the New Testament - or in any kind of historical research on Jesus of Nazareth. "Caricature Jesus" isn't the type of guy that gets nailed to a Cross! (And calls his followers to join him.) The real Jesus is a passionate lover, who forces us to make a decision, "He who is not with Me, is against me" (Matthew 12:30); "Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth, but the sword" (Matthew 10:34). No, not a sword of physical violence, but of Truth/Reality:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 12:12-13)
Jesus is like the doctor who has to tell the patient he has cancer; hiding the gravity of the situation, denying the need for aggressive treatment, wouldn't be doing the patient justice.
Recently, a friend of mine (also Catholic) got very excited when she found out I had a blog. I don't think that excitement lasted very long though; when we next spoke she diplomatically told me, "I don't agree with you on many things." She didn't elaborate; and my sense was that it wasn't the right moment to ask her to either. From little things she's shared in the past though, I fear her disagreement has to do with Jesus' s teachings regarding sexuality; and that makes me terribly sad. We are supposed to be in a real, life-giving relationship with Jesus of Nazareth, our brother and God. We can't pick and choose what parts of His message we are going to live by. That's like picking which part of the marriage vow you're going to honor. Oh, plenty of people try to do it...and thus our 50% divorce rate. Hot or cold - thinking that you can exist as "lukewarm" is self-deception. I'm not saying this as someone looking down from a summit; I think I've blogged enough about going to Confession to prove that that isn't the point. Christianity is Life-giving, it gives Divine Life; but only when we fully surrender ourselves to Jesus. We come, broken as we are, sinful as we are, and allow Him to embrace us - embracing Him in turn. We ask for, and receive, the help of His Holy Spirit. And then we have the ability to Love and Live the Reality, the Life that Jesus (the real Jesus) proclaimed!
If you're reading this, please pray for me. Please pray for my friend too - a beautiful, smart, young woman looking for her heart's passion.