Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Surrender: Part 3

"Now he was.  If he had stayed in the community, he would not be.  It was as simple as that.  Once he had yearned for choice.  Then, when he had had a choice, he had made the wrong one: the choice to leave.   And now he was starving.

But if he had stayed...

His thoughts continued.  If he had stayed, he would have starved in other ways.  He would have lived a life hungry for feelings, for color, for love."  - "Jonas" in Lois Lowry's The Giver

Surrender involves pain.  I don't like it.  But it's what I need.  My soul starves for "feelings, for color, for love" so I too must have pain.

I just finished Lois Lowry's The Giver which has hit the reading lists of high schoolers across the States.   Now that I've read it, I'm not surprised, and I'm extremely grateful.  I don't want to ruin the book (which I highly recommend), but I do want to unpack some of it's insights in regards to surrender.

In The Giver, Lowry writes of a dis-topia in which everything is safe, everything is controlled, and everything that involves real feeling is extracted.  The undergirding philosophy behind the society is that if something is painful and dangerous, it should be avoided at all costs.  With a little imagination, Lowry writes of a horrifically cruel society.  Sound familiar?

It's all too familiar.  The world I live in, at least in middle-class suburban America, seeks comfort and safety as it's god.  This (which I realize is a narrow class) is designed to create the most freedom of comfort for the most individuals.

Even our religion is watered down into headology, personal enlightenment, self-help, "health and wealth" and empty ritual.   Sadly, knowing better, I've bought into all of these to a certain extent.

And the disturbing thing is that if our end is comfort, we will become sub-human.  Dead.

Interestingly, Jesus teaches that if we are to live, we must die.  He knows that we are addicted to self and pleasure, and will resist risk and love at all costs.

He knows that we don't have true feelings, see real color or know real love.  I believe this is why he speaks of us being brought from death to life.

So where does this leave the Christian?  The Christian is faced with a extremely difficult choice.  Should he continue down the path behind Jesus, where pain is a promise, but so is life and joy - all that makes up reality.  Or should he go back to the ways he knows, ways that are safe, not so risky and a lot more comfortable.  Should the Christian trust his master, or trust his old sub-human instincts?

Grace is given to the Christian, supernatural freedom to follow, supernatural strength to obey.  Obedience involves a death, but it's far, far better than turning back.  What I don't realize is turning back means going back towards horrors unimaginable.

Safety, comfort and pleasure are gifts, but as I observed in The Giver, if they come from the wrong source (ourselves and our resources) they bring evil and degradation of all that is most human.

Basically the Christian only has one choice.  For "Now (we) are.  If (we) had stayed in the community (we) would not be.  It was as simple as that."

May we face our fear of pain and follow.  May God give us the strength.