One of the classes I've been taking this semester is "Cultural Heritage of the West", or CHOW for short. We read the works of all the greatest (and sometimes the not-so-great) Western minds and in turn write about them, all in an attempt by the administration to bring "culture" to the Covenant student population.
We started the semester reading Greek and Roman writers like Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, and Marcus Aeurelius. Our textbook also included passages from the Bible, and when we got to Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount, here's what I wrote for one of my journal entries. I'm not trying to be too theologically deep about this; but if perhaps this is not a restatement of the obvious for you, as it was not for me, there could be a chance you enjoy it.
As a point of interest, I wrote all my journal entries in pencil (and I always write in pencil anyway) until I got this particular entry back, graded, with a note at the top from my professor: "What do you have against pens?"
While I find it nice to be back in familiar literary territory, I'm reeling from the abrupt change in worldviews. At least the Greeks and Romans differed over little nit-picky details; this is different in a huge way, like going from walking through sand to walking on a juiced-up moving sidewalk. Reading Matthew in light of studying Homer and Plato and Virgil is a shock -- Who is this Jesus guy, anyway? What's he trying to tell us? We've never heard anything like this! One God? Blessed are the meek? Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? What kind of teachings are these?
But that's the message -and the impact- of the Gospel, isn't it? No to say the intention of the Sermon on the Mount is to just bring shock and awe... rather, it just naturally shocks and awes anyone who comes in contact with it, and with anyone whose life is the portrayal of the teachings of Jesus. And in the time of Christ, his words were not only freakishly new and different to the Greeks and Romans, but also the Jews and those who followed the Law of Moses. When Jesus takes all the "don't"s and pulls out a list of "do"s (or more precisely, "Blessed are those"s, I guess) and adds a new perspective of "inward" religion to a legalistic society, it absolutely blows the mind. "Eye for an eye" becomes "turn the other cheek"; "Love your neighbors and hate your enemies" becomes "love your enemies and pray for them"; "Do not commit fill-in-the-blank" becomes "do not commit fill-in-the-blank in your heart", much to everyone's (and I mean everyone's) surprise. His way of thinking was nothing short of revolutionary.
To take a quote from Back to the Future: "That's heavy, Doc." Very heavy indeed.
I guess I believe in a revolution, then. People could look at this Jesus Revolution (I randomly coin a term that reeks of oversimplification, but I'll save that argument for Doctrine class) and say, yes, this is the most peaceful, nonviolent kind of revolution. But it's only peaceful to those who choose to remain unaffected by it. To be truly immersed in this internal revolution is to see your own selfish thoughts and desires, your own sinful heart and mind be torn apart in the most painful and wonderful way possible. It's an internal one-eighty that I'm fairly certain the rest o the world could never understand.
Nonviolent? Possibly. But peaceful? Hardly. Not "peace" as the world sees it, anyway; it's internal turmoil that most could honestly do without, if given the choice. But from this struggle with sin comes a peace that surpasses human understanding.
So here's to the revolution: the revolution of the Gospel.
That's still heavy, Doc. But no one ever said a revolution was easy.
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