“Welcome to our little journey, ladies and gentlemen. We are expecting a little cold weather as we begin, but don’t worry about that, our forecasts is for “seasonal” weather today. Before our bus pulls out of the station, let’s review the purpose of our road trip of discovery. Our quest is to examine this theory:
“Christian theology is not particularly difficult to understand. Its precepts and premises are fairly simple, it was given to “regular” guys to share with the world, and they did it. Yes, of course they had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, but then so do we. Yet we love to argue, follow tradition and form to avoid spiritual growth and reaching out, because they are counter-intuitive, and the fact that they are counter-intuitive is exactly the point of all things being new, for our human intuition isn’t new, it’s the old thing that Jesus died to free us from.”
Our first stop is to consider the last part of the theory, the issue of intuitive versus counter-intuitive as it relates to our attitudes, perceptions and inclinations.
Our natural human inclinations are things like self-preservation, self-advancement, self-aggrandizement and self in general. You can see this inclination at work when a couple of toddler play together and then one of them wants to play with the other’s toy. The second toddler begins to scream and wail, and if Mom doesn’t intervene, somebody’s going to be hurt. The second toddler will shout things like “Mine,” “gimme” and NO! Then Mon swoops in and says something like, “Now Johnny, honey, you have to share…” And Johnny isn’t buying any of that sharing business. When we grow up, we usually have learned to share to some extent, but we still don’t always want to be forthcoming with certain things. Sure, all people are different. Some are very generous, some are more stingy, and some can make old Mr. Scrooge look like a choir boy! The important point is that all of us, or nearly all anyway, are more likely to view the world around us in terms that are self-ish rather than self-less. We often say that this is “human nature.”
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus made comments that seem to run counter to normal “human nature.” You know the things that He taught, things like the first being last and the last being first. The guy who finds his life will lose it and the one who loses his life will find it, and how we shouldn’t store up treasures on earth, and how we shouldn’t worry. Oh, and then there are all those parables about servants and masters, and widows offering everything they had while rich guys tossed in a fraction. And of course there is also the part about how hard it is for a rich dude to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Lazarus and the rich man… and on and on. Remember how people reacted to those things? Nobody ever seemed to quite get it, it was so different from what they knew about life. They knew the same things that we know, that you have to get ahead in life, that you have to plan for the future and how you can’t let others stand in your way. We Americans used to call this “rugged individualism.”
Jesus didn’t teach “rugged individualism,” I’m sorry to say. That concept holds a lot of appeal for me, to be honest, but Jesus didn’t teach that way. Jesus taught in a way that was counter-intuitive, meaning that it runs against all of our natural human inclinations; it is in opposition to human nature. Would I be stretching the point too far if I suggested that this makes being a Christian who wants to really, seriously, no kidding around, follower of Jesus, encounter some difficulty, some internal struggle, and even experience some conflicts in their thinking?
It seems to me that this counter-intuitive aspect of His teaching is where most of our conflicts come from individually. I also think it’s where most of our problems come from corporately as well, sometimes with horrifying results.
Can we go back to the very beginning for just a moment? What was the original sin? I’m not referring to a doctrinal or academic definition, because if you go there, I’m afraid you’ll have the wrong answer! I mean the very first act of rebellion against God that is mentioned in Scripture; it wasn’t in Eden. (There’s your hint)
It was when Lucifer decided that he was going to be just like God. He seemed (I’m embellishing somewhat) that he was better looking, smarter and just as strong, and so he should be a co-ruler or something like that… remember? God didn’t like that too much as I recall, and tossed old Lucifer out of Heaven. Then, in the garden narrative, when Lucifer, the serpent, tempted Miss Eve, what line was it that made her take that fruit? It was when he told her that God didn’t want them to eat that fruit, because when they did, they would be just like God, knowing good and evil. So she grabbed it and gave some to Adam, and the rest, as they say, is history.
You are most welcome to disagree, after all this is a road trip of discovery and good discussion always helps bring things out, but I’d have to say that our human nature, or natural inclinations, our natural intuition, has everything to do with wanting to be just like God. That is the original sin, in my view. (My old Dean wasn’t always thrilled when I re-stated the old doctrines like this, but this is my blog, not his department!)
The teachings Jesus gave us run counter to our natural intuition, therefore they are counter-intuitive.
“Ladies and gentlemen, our next stop will be at a place called ‘All Things are New.'”