Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Isiah 53

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried. (53:3,4)

Perhaps you can imagine this hypothetical situation: You’re hiking in the Himalayas and because you didn’t prepare properly, living a life of wanton indulgence prior to your trip, you haven’t the stamina or health to carry your own load. In fact, the load you’re carrying is killing you . Actually your own bad choices, made over years, are killing you. But whatever the source, you can’t continue.

Suddenly someone, already looking haggard and weary from the incredible load he’s carrying, intervenes and adds your load to his already substantial burden. Of course, the weight of it all makes him the antithesis of glowing health. In his present condition, he’d not be invited to any parties. Passersby on the trail look with disdain, they in their Gortex parkas, carrying nothing at all; he in his smelly wool, rain soaked pullover, slipping and sliding, bruised and battered, for the load he’s carrying. He’s mocked, marked, and ignored. No book tours will await him at the end of this trek. Those are reserved for the climbers, whose load is limited to an i-pod and personal water. The real hero's destiny is isolation.

While all analogies pale as we contemplate the cross (this one perhaps more than most), the truth of the matter is plain. Humanity treated Christ with disdain because he was afflicted, stricken, ‘rejected by God’. But he was all of those things because he had taken upon himself all our sickness, sorrow, and rebellion, bearing in his own body all the weight of our burdensome sins.

All of us, like sheep, have gone astray. Yes Lord, I’ve gone astray, turning away from pastures of life towards deserts of destruction, choosing indulgence over obedience, isolation over love, flattery over honesty. Too far and too often, I’ve gone astray. I’ve looked for life among death dealers.

But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. You carried my guilt to the cross. You were marred by my guilt; stricken by my sin; rejected because of my rebellion.

“Who has believed the message?” Isaiah asks in the same chapter. I’ll tell you who: The ones who get it are the ones who know that they walk at all on the path of life because another has carried the burden which would have destroyed them. And He’s still walking, still offering to unload the crap that I have picked up along the way.


At 11/4/06 12:08, Anonymous doug said...

In light of Christ being despised by men, and those among us who are you have thoughts on the illegal immigration issue facing America? I have strong gut-feelings that a huge amount of illegal immigrants is bad for a country...and that we do need to have borders and enforced laws in this world. But I also feel somewhat elitist in my "keep them out" mentality. Can you help me get my mind around this issue, in a Christ-centered way?


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