Christ has set me free (Romans 8:2) from the law of sin and death. What can this mean in the context of this “war of ideas” between West and East?
I have been listening in the car this week to a lecture course by N.T. Wright called “Romans in a Week.” It occurred to me that it is having a wright effect on me, when I felt unmoved by this Stephen Richter rticle on this intellectual battle between West and East that so often and repetitively leads to bloodshed.
Sin dominates Adamic Wo/Man because what we have inherited through Adam is the rebellion against God, generally known as “free will” or the expectation that we will solve our own problems without reference to God. And there is an inexplicit irony in the word “free” because Western Wo/Man’s thinking tends to be predominated by Western values and attitudes, and Eastern by Eastern. So we are all “free” to think within a bell curve around a midpoint representing the predominate values of the side we are thrown into by our birth, at the time of our birth. And in rejecting God’s expectations for proper behaviour, we have each, West and East, collectively and hubristically appointed our representative leaders and opinion setters as gods in God’s place, to dictate to us “right” thinking.
Christ sets me free by recruiting my allegiance from these “profane” values and expectations, to God’s “sacred” values and expectations. If I am willing to rest transparently and trustingly in God’s will, and able to eschew the rewards, and accept whatever punishments the hubristic world offers to maintain my allegiance to it, then I am free from that world of sin and death. I’m not saying this is easy, but its not any more or less easy to live and prosper in the world of sin and death than in God’s kingdom. One must choose either to rebel against God (the default position in these “end times”) or against the World.
When I read about “the battle” or “the war” between Western and Eastern ideation, I feel freed from the need to commit to either World. Both represent sin and death. Both are apparently committed to the overthrowing of each other unto death. And Christ counsels us to eschew wars, and enemies, treating each stranger as ourselves and not as an alien that we must overcome and eradicate. So Christ frees us to live in God’s kingdom and to speak against sin and death, whichever side represents them – both do – but in our thrownness, we find ourselves on this or that side of the teeter totter we vie from, sometimes up and sometimes down.
In personal practice, that means accepting others on a case by case, interaction by interaction basis, and not being co-opted by mass movements that seek to sweep us up into easy intolerances – easy because if everyone feels that way, it must be right, or at least it will be too difficult to swim against the rewards for co-optation, or punishments for thinking outside whichever box.