Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A dream:

Two men came to our front door, one black, one white. They looked shabby and said they hadn't eaten in...a couple of days? Anyway, that they were hungry and would appreciate any money I could give them, even if it was just spare change.

I refused them.

The white guy left first, starting off down the street. The black man and I were still talking when I saw the white guy disappear into thin air. I told the black man that he'd better go see what happened with his friend, and he left.

I started to come back upstairs, unnerved because I'd just seen someone disappear. Had I refused an angel (Heb. 13:2)?

At the top of the stairs, I turned, and noticed shadows moving under the door at the bottom of the stairs, and through the little window in the door.

And then, light.

I went back down the stairs and opened the door.

The white guy was back, dressed in a flowing white garment. Apparently I had indeed refused an angel.

I don't remember what led me to do what I did next.

I said, "Let's talk about the blood."

He started to make some general comment about blood, and I said,

"The blood of Jesus."

He hemmed. He hawwed. I grabbed him by the throat.

He disappeared, leaving only the flowing white garment.

End of story. 1 John 4.2.

*******

I have not yet seen "The Passion of the Christ." Janet and I may go Saturday evening. But I find it interesting how so many people react so intensely against it, not just because of perceived or feared anti-Semitism, but because of its graphic protrayal of the violence Jesus endured. For instance, Barry Paris of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who concludes his review by asking "Which is more important, how Christ lived or how he died?"

To which the Christian answer is, "How he died." Or at least the traditional, orthodox Christian answer. The Gospels themselves focus more on Christ's death, and the immediate events leading up to it, than on any other part of his life. And the remainder of the New Testament practically ignores his life to hammer away at the significance of his death as God's means of redeeming the world. The emphasis is so lopsided that from a Biblical perspective the question is absurd. I can imagine Paul hearing the question and blurting out, "You've GOT to be kidding me!"

How he died, Mr. Paris - and why.

*******

Talk about the blood of Jesus, present the cross of Christ, and whoever you're talking to, man or spirit, will fall into one or the other of two great camps - those who embrace and those who recoil.

That's just the way it is.


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