So I follow Brian Zahnd a wee bit, read him, track him, listen to a few of his sermons, and I should say right off the bat I believe we probably disagree on multiple issues, everything from politics to music styles. That said however, what a gifting he has, what a treasure he is for the Body of Christ. The way his mind works is very cool. I am delighted he is in my world.
So, I can totally hold these two conflicting ideas in tension, cheerfully embrace the fact that he and I are very different, that we are not going to be in agreement about most things, but what a treasure he is, what a beautiful image bearer. That is what spiritual maturity is supposed to look like, unity and love even when we are disagreeing over the thermostat settings and the worship music.
Anyway, I’ve written quite a bit about my love affair with Nietzsche, and the title of Zahnd’s talk, “a long obedience in the same direction” is a riff off of Nietzsche, so it is right down my alley. Also we kind of live in a disposal society, a throw away world of instant gratification, so I was encouraged to hear his message. Click the red link if you’d like to listen.
Recently there was a bit of a twitterstorm over some words he said, but they so captured my own heart, captured what I’ve been trying desperately to point out since forever.
Also, much hilarity ensued as to the nature of reading and digesting literature. Moby Dick for example, is a book in which the protagonist doesn’t really arrive on the scene until the end. The whale is there all along, but we don’t actually meet him in person until the end. Well, in a similar way, Jesus is central to the story being told in the Bible, He is there in the beginning, the middle, and the end, but some of us don’t fully grasp that truth. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
What often happens when we do not read the Bible through the lens of Jesus, is that we start to perceive it as a book of laws, a book of rules, and there are now two totally separate gods, the wrathful, judgmental God of the old testament and Jesus, who apparently came to save us from Him? It’s a convoluted, chaotic, and false understanding that often leaves people unable to reconcile what appears to be two conflicting characters.
Don’t heretic at me, I just believe Zahnd nailed it and I second his words, “Jesus Christ is the main protagonist of the Big Story of Redemption that the Bible tells.” Scary truth here, but a good chunk of Christians I encounter do not seem aware of that.
And it shows.