April 3, 2009


"Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" ~Isaiah 53:1

'He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’ ~Luke 16:27-31 (NRSV)

If you hang around Christians long enough, you're bound to hear it. A friend went to a funeral recently and heard it there. The gist is, Christians will be happy in heaven while everybody else will burn in hell, so make sure you're on God's good side, the Christian side. Or else.

When I was in high school I had two friends whose families were of this ilk. One's mother believed, without doubt, that her own mother was headed for hell. The other, Bible firmly in hand, once left a Buddhist classmate in tears.

What argument can we make if "they will [not] be convinced even if someone rises from the dead"? Must we who believe somehow convince, cajole, bully, berate, or threaten those who do not, cannot, will not?

Paul says to the recalcitrant Corinthians: "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Not Jesus Christ raised bodily from the dead. Not fire and brimstone, hellfire and damnation. Crucifixion. Suffering. Brokenness.

When God's image was finally, finally borne in the world, it was upon a Roman cross. Humanity, at last, revealing God's glory.

Here, only here, have we ever, will we ever, see the arm of the Lord revealed.

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