All in good fun here, but sometimes I do get myself into a bit of trouble on the internet and IRL too, but I am truly blessed. My “trouble” pretty much revolves around “somebody yelled at me.” Or called me crazy….or reported me to various government agencies. Or blogged something mean about me, doxxed me, or tried to steal my identity. Hey folks, you can have it…
Let me tell you, sometimes it can be downright scandalous blogging and also living in the 9th circuit of hell. I come from a family that seems to have forgotten how to put the fun in dysfunctional and I have some 300 in-laws living nearby. Scandal is our middle name.
I care very little about such things, but the whole concept of scandal has me thinking of how forgotten the scandalous nature of Christ really is. We are so wrapped in cotton here in the Western world that the radical nature of Christianity just doesn’t feel so radical anymore. Long forgotten is the fact that Christ was speaking against the powers that be, that he was challenging men’s authority with new ideas, that the things he was speaking and advocating were shocking, radical, scandalous.
Not long ago I was reading a couple of discussions on women in the ministry, with the usual complaints about how regressive and Neanderthal it was that the bible doesn’t seem too keen on women in leadership within the church serving as priests, pastors. I don’t wish to rehash that debate, but simply to observe that at the time, women were not religiously oppressed or repressed, we were everywhere, heavily involved as priestess in goddess worshipping cults and assorted pagan activities. Women were religious leaders all around the culture. What was radical, unusual, progressive even, was that we were not leaders in the early church. Active, present, but not in leadership. That was somewhat culturally unusual. Radical even. Not regressive, new.
Marriage, one man, one woman, yet another alleged oppressive leftover of patriarchy, was also a somewhat radical idea. Progressive, even. At the time, polygamy was rampant as were concubines and slavery. People got divorced or didn’t get married at all or simply had affairs or took captives. I’m not so sure the ancient world was anymore concerned with morality than we are today. I recall there was even a dancing girl who once requested someone’s head on a platter and got it.
Marriage, family, laws, many of the things we perceive today as outdated leftovers of a bygone era were actually at one time quite radical, scandalous even. So scandalous, early Christian’s very lives were often in danger. What has come to be known and the little Darwin fish was actually once used as a symbol for Christians on the down low, people instructed to be as wise as serpents but gentle as doves. Today when one speaks of how the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing it conjures up visions of the CIA, NSA, spies. It is actually a term that originated in the bible. The secret, clandestine, activities of the truly scandalous, wise as serpents, gentle as doves, lurking around in the catacombs, drawing fish on the doors of safe houses.
That is the truth of Christian history and some are still forced to live that way today. In many places in the Middle East the “N” symbolizing a Nazarene can mark Christians for persecution or execution. In some places like China, people still understand the radical nature of what it means to follow Christ and the price some will pay.
I hope and pray everyday that Christians remain wrapped in cotton and protected here in the Western world and yet in a spiritual context we really need to embrace that radical and scandalous nature of our faith. In Christ there is the possibility of scandalous healing and radical change, both as individuals and for the culture at large. Those in ministry, the very best pastors, are often not famous or popular, but they are scandalous, as in willing to stand firm in what they believe, as in willing to risk the disapproval and discomfort of others in favor of what they know to be right.
Scandal is defined in many different ways but it means “something that angers or shocks people because rules or standards of behavior are violated” or “A publicized incident that offends the moral sensibilities of society.”
Faith done well should make us angry sometimes, it should shock us and offend our moral sensibilities. What lurks behind that offense however, are the scandalous fruits of a well planted vine.
*****REPOST FROM Oct 2015