Sunday, April 05, 2015

Christianity Is a Religion of Losers

Redeemer Youth Conference - 4/2/15
To become a follower of Jesus you have to have a realization of your own basic screwed-upness. Then, you have to get rid of your pride and ask for help. 

Many do not: 1) realize they are screwed up; and 2) if they do many do not ask for help outside of themselves. But for those who do realize 1 and act on 2 these become the door to life and freedom.

This realization includes a dim sense (at least) of how phenomenally ignorant we are. When this revelation hits know-it-all arrogance is in jeopardy. I'm ignorant, you're ignorant. You are on your way to knowing something important if you get this existential insight. To know anything important about life at all, know this.

I've had the ignorance-insight often. Probably God hits me withy this when I start thinking I know a lot. I'll never forget one time I was in my favorite bookstore in the world on the campus of the University of Chicago. I was browsing book titles old and new and then it hit me again. I had read less than 1% of 1% of 1% of 1% of these books. I felt like the self-made man in Sartre's novel Nausea who got a big-time apocalyptic insight into his own stupidity and the sheer futility and foolishness of thinking otherwise.

If you think you are some knowledge-gift to humanity then Christianity will not be for you. As Giles Fraser writes, "Christianity, properly understood, is a religion of losers – the worst of playground insults" ("Christianity, when properly understood, is a religion of losers"). This is good, since we are all a bunch of losers. This is why it has been more than good for me. As Fraser continues:

"But here’s the thing. The Christian story, like the best sort of terrifying psychoanalysis, strips you down to nothing in order for you to face yourself anew. For it turns out that losers are not despised or rejected, not ultimately. In fact, losers can discover something about themselves that winners cannot ever appreciate – that they are loved and wanted simply because of who they are and not because of what they achieve. That despite it all, raw humanity is glorious and wonderful, entirely worthy of love. This is revealed precisely at the greatest point of dejection. The resurrection is not a conjuring trick with bones. It is a revelation that love is stronger than death, that human worth is not indexed to worldly success."

This is the upside-down kingdom of God, where the poor and rich and the rich, poor; where the weak are the strong; and where the wise are ignorant and the ignorant, wise. Fraser writes:
"When [Jesus] was nothing but a suspended carcass, dripping with his own blood and other people’s spit, there were no worshippers around clapping their hands and singing their hymns. They were long gone. At the very end, ironically at the moment of greatest triumph, he had no followers left. That says something profoundly counterintuitive about what a successful church looks like."