Today is the fifth Sunday in Lent. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but today we continue to exam ourselves in an effort prepare for the redemption that awaits us during Holy Week.
On Friday, the host and Arnn discussed, not for the first time, how the Senate filibuster has been warped into something entirely different than what it once was. Originally adopted as a means to make certain debate was never cut short; the filibuster has now become an instrument to not only squelch debate, but to squelch legislation and nomination itself. I thought to myself as I listened to them how typical that was of what we do in so many areas of life.
When we think of sin, we tend to think of murder or sexual sin or stealing. Most of us don’t do that sort of thing, but that does not mean we are sinless. So often our sin presents in the ways in which we warp a good thing to meet our purposes instead of the purposes for which it was created. In such warpage we can claim to be good while all the time we are being anything but.
Consider environmentalism. Originally conceived as a movement towards exercising good stewardship over creation, it has become instead a movement used to justify totalitarian policies, What was once about picking up litter and preventing poisons from being dumped into rivers has become something that is about controlling what and how much we drive, the type of homes we live in – in some places even the simple enjoyment of a wood fire has been curtailed. One environmentalist, when I pointed out that generating and transmitting electricity to charge an electric car actually resulted in more carbon emission, just somewhere else, than operating an internal combustion engine, exclaimed “That’s why we have to change everything!” And thus an agenda is revealed. What was once about goodness has become about control – it has been warped.
But no place is our ability to warp a good thing more evident than in how we have come to understand love.
We have warped how we understand love in extreme ways. We have grafted to it the word “unconditional” to the point that many people look at you funny if you speak the word “love” without the “unconditional” attached. With that appendage the now-phrase has come to mean “acceptance.” And with that a claim of love has become a means of emotional blackmail.
Love, “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth,” and yet the now-phrase that it has become demands that we do the exact opposite. Now when we see unrighteousness, always born in untruth, we are instructed to celebrate lest the purveyor of that unrighteousness feel “unloved.” Love, “does not seek its own,” yet is that not precisely what the now-phrase has become? No longer is love something we give, it has become something we demand of others.
As we approach Holy Week, when the sacrificial nature of love is made most evident, we need to examine ourselves not just for the obvious sins but for the ways in which we have warped the good and made it sinful. The love we will see in the events of Holy Week is so pure that its light shines into every dark corner. If we are prepared, that light will illuminate the path to glory, but if we are not prepared that light will break us with the vision of just how warped we really are.