thread: 2007-01-04 : Self-identification vs. Membership

On 2007-01-11, Sydney Freedberg wrote:

Thanks for the question, Christian; and Brand, thanks for the help answering (I had deadline hell). I just want to zoom in on one bit:

"It's about the salvation of the soul. Everything else doesn't matter or is even blasphemous to focus on."

As I understand Christianity (indeed, the whole Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition), this idea goes badly wrong starting with the word "everything else."

Sure, the "everything else" shouldn't come first: To go all Paul Tillich for a moment, making ourselves infinitely concerned with finite things is a guarantee of disaster. Everything in this world is a gift from God; but if we put the gift in the place of the Giver—if we make a God of money, or shiny cars, or sex, or our country, or even our children—it is like filling in your well because you trust in your bucket to save you from thirst. Idolatry isn't bad just because it offends God (though it must strike Him as painfully ungrateful): It's bad because we put weight on things of this world that only God can bear.

But the things of this world are a gift from God, and if you understand them as gifts—look at Vincent's family blessing at meals in the other thread—they can be stepping-stones to God, not bricks in the wall between God and you. You can find a little bit of God in stamp collecting, or sex, or patriotism, or your children.

Even Jesus wept when His friend Lazarus died—and Jesus had already prophesied Lazarus would die and that He would resurrect him. Jesus feasted at the wedding at Cana and lent a hand when they ran out of wine; He let Mary annoint His head and wash His feet; His last gift to His disciples before His death was bread and wine, and in many of the resurrection narratives the Risen Lord eats with His friends as well. The body is good; being alive is good; just don't mistake them for the be-all and end-all of the goodness that is out there.


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