Dear Me circa 2001,
It’s me, you from the future. Approximately 10 years from then, now. Whatever … Now shut up and listen to me. I have seniority over you. I’ve seen everything you’ve seen and more. You have changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Your heart was always in the right place, but your head was up the wrong place. You have taste tested everything from the buffet line in terms of “spirituality”. Spending most of your time dippin’ chips into the vague sages of New Wage guacamole, indulging in heaping helpings of moral relativism mumbo-jambalaya. You’ve even visited Buddha’s hotdog vendor and asked him to make you one with everything. (That’s not my joke, but if we truly are all one, then there is no plagiarism, is there?) Quantum Mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of, etc. etc.
What I have to tell you might make you a little uncomfortable, but, hey, I’m dealing with it just fine. Are you sitting down? OK.
We’ve become what some people might refer to as a “Jesus Freak”. Hey, I know what you’re thinking; believe me, when some creepy individual comes up and asks, “Have you found JeSUSS?” we’d have been the first one to say something like: “Yeah, he was between the couch cushions, next to the TV remote. It’s always the last place you look.”
And our friends can attest to the fact that we draw these people like flies, as a result of our disability. Our kind are heavily represented in Sacred Scripture, after all. (Say it loud – I’m lame and I’m proud!) Occasionally, some very well-meaning people would approach and want to lay hands on us. This can be pretty awkward when you’re 15 years old, hanging outside of a convenience store with your friends. Nevermind the burden of having to be miraculously healed, getting up from our wheelchair, and then doing a little tap dancing for their trouble. (Sarcasm is still a chasm I frequently fall into.)
I know, I know, you’ve always been kinda fond of the Messiah, albeit in a totally oblivious sort of way. The King of Kings has always been a reoccurring character, a common thread running throughout our patchwork path. You thought things like, “He’s extremely wise and profound,” and, “He’s a great teacher, like Buddha and Confuse-us (the fortune cookie guy).” If it’s so that Jesus was a great teacher then aren’t we to conclude that the things He taught are reliable, trustworthy and true? Especially his central claim, without which all the rest of His teachings unravel.
Soon, Past Me, you will be reading a lot of Christian apologists, (no, that doesn’t mean people apologizing for being Christian), and one of the apologists, i.e., defenders of the Faith, that will melt your cerebellum is C.S. Lewis. Lewis has a simple but profound bit of thought-food with regard to Christ and His teachings. A question he puts forth that can have only one of three answers goes as follows. Which one of these things was Jesus of Nazareth?: Liar; Lunatic; or Lord?
Just for kicks, some nobody carpenter from an obscure little corner of the world with no fanfare thinks up and pulls off what turns out to be — far and away — the greatest hoax in the history of mankind. Nobody ever even approaches the influence this little Jewish carpenter has had throughout the entire world. Somehow he miraculously … no, can’t be miraculous, because that would point in the other direction. Somehow he, by dumb luck, manages to fulfill ALL the prophecies foretold in Sacred Scripture, down to the tiniest details. In this scenario, Christ would have to have been the Anti-Christ, since he would be sacrilegious to the enth degree with blasphemy whipped topping!
You see, dear me, He said, “I AM the way the truth and the life”; had he merely said “I HAVE the way, the truth and the life” instead, he’d have been like any other teacher from any other religion.
So, then was Jesus a Lunatic? A few drips shy of a snow cone, was He? Of course throughout history, insane asylums have been jampacked with people claiming to be God. But how many of those guys are still being talked about today? How many brilliant intellectuals and scholars are still, to this day, in awe of the words and parables spoken by this Jesus, this Son of Man, this Word made flesh — 2000 years later? Sorry, the lunatic angle is even less believable than the Christ-as-liar scenario.
What we are left with is Jesus is Lord. Should the Word be taken at His word? God can neither deceive nor be deceived. He came here as the son of God to be THE example; the perfect role model. As such, were He to stretch the truth even a little bit, anything else He said or did would have been open to scrutiny and would be suspect. You want reliable? You want accountability? Our American currency may have pictures of presidents on it, but, more importantly, it has the words “In God We Trust”. That’s where the buck really stops.
Hey, Me, I know why you’re really reticent about the idea of being a holy roller, a God’s Will Ambassador. When one puts their opinion about God out there it either gets completely ignored, for lack of anything new to say on the subject, vehemently opposed by the holier-than-thou blasphemy committee (who are outside the authority of the Church), or it gets shot down by a rabid bunch of agitated agnostics and vigilante atheists, some of whom are on a crusade to save the world from believing in a savior of the world.
You leave your popularity at the door. Suddenly, you’re on the **it-list of some of the most bitter, hateful people with an ax to grind on the face of the earth. (And you’re not allowed to say **it anymore.) That’s right, in the eyes of most, you’re Ned Flanders. And, guess what — you don’t care!
John 15: 18 – 21
18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know Him who sent me.
That was from the lips of no less than the God-Man himself, Jesus Christ.
And here is St. Augustine’s take on the issue:
People who change their way of life and begin to think about spiritual progress also begin to suffer from the tongues of detractors. Whoever has not yet suffered this trial has not yet made progress, and whoever is not ready to suffer it does not even endeavor to progress.