(Text below is excerpt from Erin Wathen’s “Terrorism, Holy Week, and Other Things We’d Like to Forget” published on Patheos.com.  Text in bold is ours.)

…They talk about this wonderful post on Instagram; a picture of the chaos in that Belgian train station, along with a hashtag: #ThisWorldIsNotOurHome

“This world is not our home,” said the show’s host. “Isn’t that so comforting?”

“NO it’s not!” I shouted as I flipped back to my lefty local music station. IT IS NOT COMFORTING. It is cowardly. It is naive. And most of all, it is an affront to the real and present suffering of the world outside of comfy western religion.

The world is our home. It is. And we are supposed to be learning to live in it, together.

It’s not just the guy on the radio. Escapist theology is a part of American culture. “Don’t worry too much about who the President is going to be, we know God’s in charge!” “We don’t need gun control, we need prayer; only God can save us.” “There is war, there is terror, there is famine and pandemic and our cars and factories are dissolving the ozone and melting the ice caps, but this world is not our home…”

Some day we will bounce on out of here and go live with Jesus in paradise and it will all be ok.

I get it. Truly I do. I can escape with the best of them. J.K. Rowling and Aaron Sorkin are, perhaps, my greatest enablers.

But Jesus is not.

As much as I experience–and sometimes indulge–the temptation to duck out of the world for a minute, the gospel is not an escape hatch. Jesus is not a parachute. And faith in God is not the emergency eject button.

The future hope of heaven has been a major part of the Christian narrative for generations. Understandably so within the context of, say, liberation theology. For enslaved and oppressed populations, the comfort of a future life with Jesus–when this one is not your own–makes sense. It’s even biblical.

But with this kind of theology, context is everything. Affluent white Americans, using the promise of heaven to look away from the suffering of the world?  Nossir. It does not work like that.

Our faith in Christ calls us to engage the world; to resist evil; to serve the hurting; to transform hatred and rage and fear of neighbor; but never to ignore the hurting places and fix our eyes on some future paradise into which only a select few will be invited. If anything, our belief in an afterlife–or any kind of life–with Jesus, draws us more deeply into the suffering of our own time and place.

This week in the life of the church, we challenge ourselves to draw close to the story of humanity’s darkest hour–the death of God at the hands of the empire. We move into the space of terrible violence, bearing witness to unthinkable suffering and loss. In that space it’s tempting–of course it is–to skip ahead to Easter Sunday. In fact, it seems that some churches even have Easter on Palm Sunday now, and then have it again on actual Easter. Because life is hard out there, and how much do we really need to be reminded that there’s pain and darkness and people can be just awful?

But we do need the reminder. We need to remember that the world has seen such violence, such terror, such fear of the other and rage at the outsider before–and that, perhaps, not much has changed. We need the reminder that resurrection is the ongoing work of faithful people who are engaged in the broken world–and not just an amazing thing that God did, that one time, so we can chill in peace forever.

And mostly, we need the reminder that it isn’t just the empire that will kill him. It is the onlookers. The raging, rioting ones; and the passive, silent ones. The ones who show up for the spectacle, the momentary diversion. Because life is hard out there, and there isn’t anything else on tonight, so why not just

Crucify him.
Source: The World is Our Home: Terrorism, Holy Week, and Other Things We’d Like to Forget

 

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