So NT Wright has written an article called, “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.”
A shallow glance and superficial take on his article has me stomping my foot and saying, uh uh! Not true. Jesus is the answer! It doesn’t even matter what the question is, the answer is still Jesus.
I believe that wholeheartedly, so I’m just going to double down on that simplistic response, Jesus is the answer, regardless of the question.
However, digging a bit deeper into his article, I think he makes some really good points about the lost art of grief and lamentation. One of my primary problems with Christiandom, with people in general, especially in the Western world is that we tend to think we have all the answers.
Women may understand this better, but often what we really need is someone to just listen, to come alongside of us and sit with us in our grief, frustration, our emotional storms or whatever. Often what we get instead is advice. Answers. Someone trying to “fix it.”
Something I love about Jesus, He spends most of His time asking people questions, coming alongside of them, healing them. He does NOT tell the woman at the well, you know what your problem is? You’ve had five husbands and you aren’t even married to the one you’re with! That’s not Jesus at all, but that really is the Western world’s “fix it” mentality.
In the modern world we don’t do so good with grief and trauma. We’re comfortable, arrogant, entitled, and we think we have all the answers. Often our first response is to just sweep all the negative emotions under the rug, and offer advice, solutions and answers, answers designed to alleviate our own discomfort and not so much the other person’s.
Somebody has a miscarriage or loses a parent and often the first words out of our mouth are something like, “God just needed another angel,” or “you do know they’ve gone to a better place?” We have an answer for everything. Heck, we sometimes have answers where there aren’t even problems! If it aint broke, don”t fix it.
Friend of mine just did a cartoon on line, a picture of a grave and on the tombstone it says, “did not wash her hands.” Darkly humorous but it kind of represents our endless death and grief shaming, our desperate attempts to prove we are the ones in control. A desperate attempt to virtue signal away, even our own death.
I remember bringing news of a woman’s passing and being met with shock, offense, outrage. Oh my God, what happened? What struck me as so strange, so unreal was that she was 102. She was a spit fire of light and life, but her death was not the result of somebody doing “something bad to her.” Her death was not a shameful thing, not a failure on her part to look both ways before crossing the street. Also, it was inevitable, predictable even. That kind of captures the modern mindset, the rationalism that afflicts us, although it is anything but, “rational.”
So I’m going to give my stamp of approval to much of NT Wright’s article. I think he makes some much needed points. It’s probably hard to believe from all my blogging, but I tend to be one of those people who doesn’t share my troubles or my needs and I surely don’t do that with “the church.” Well, not very often and part of that is because sharing your woes with those who think they have all the answers is not fruitful, it’s unproductive, and half the time you wind up trying to help them process their own feelings, rather than yours.
It should not be so, especially not in the Body of Christ.
I’m going to just end with a few sentences from his article that I really think speak the truth, “No doubt the usual silly suspects will tell us why God is doing this to us. A punishment? A warning? A sign? These are knee-jerk would-be Christian reactions in a culture which, generations back, embraced rationalism: everything must have an explanation. But supposing it doesn’t? Supposing real human wisdom doesn’t mean being able to string together some dodgy speculations and say, “So that’s all right then?”
I can tell you one thing, those of us who have really hit the fan headfirst, who have completely run out of questions and answers, can testify to the fact that regardless of what ails us, Jesus is the answer.