"That which does no earthly good cannot be heavenly minded." R. Rivera

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why Did Jesus Cross The Road? To Get To The "Other"


By Ruben Rivera© Thanksgiving Day, 25 Nov 2010
"To end otherness, every single one of us, like Jesus the archetypal Samaritan, must cross the road. Christians will readily acknowledge that Christ crossing the road was the greatest divine act of all. If so, then people crossing the road may well be the greatest human act of all." Ruben Rivera
My profession and my passion have long situated me in the midst of dialogue and debate over the application of faith to challenging contemporary issues. At the university where I teach, one long-standing issue is the work of reconciliation. Depending on one's social class, race, gender, political party and the like, there are for the word "reconciliation" a variety of definitions, visions for successful outcomes, and of course "ways" of getting there.(1)

Empirical evidence shows that North American Christians tend to see reconciliation as "vertical", a term I have used for some fifteen years to indicate an emphasis on individual conversion, or "getting right with God". Of the two parts that make up the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified, this can be seen as the vertical piece that extends from earth to heaven, symbolically representing humans reconciled to God. Based on the growth of their churches, evangelical Christians in particular have been very good at the work of vertical reconciliation.


Unfortunately, what evangelicals, and Christians in general, have historically not been so good at is what I call "horizontal reconciliation"(2): a radical conversion and reorientation that leads to justice and equality for, and harmonious conviviality with people different from themselves. Using the image of the Cross again, this is the piece that extends horizontally, to any and all parts of the world, reconciling humans to each other. Genuine reconciliation, said Miroslav Volf, would result in the "embrace" of the "other", and in so doing, bring an end to otherness.(3)

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Christianity loves to tell how God came to earth and became the archetypal "other": he was Nazarene, but "can anything good come from Nazareth?"; the friend of society's outcasts; and himself an outcast, "had no place to lay his head"; the "prophet unwelcome in his own country"; the "corner stone that the builders rejected"; mocked, slandered, oppressed, and horribly crucified. Indeed, judging by the Anglo Saxon standard that has dominated the globe of what it means to be human and what it means to be beautiful(4), Jesus would still qualify as "other" today, in our society, even many of our churches.

From Mike Fillon, "The Real Face of Jesus,"
Popular Mechanics
, 7 Dec 2002.
Image of an average 1st century Aramaic-speaking male Jew based on data gathered from forensic anthropology and biblical texts. Would this Jesus be embraced if he came for the first time today? Or would he be treated as other?

Yet, the Christian story is essentially this: God, the Holy Other, so loved sinful others, that God came to earth as socially other in order to end otherness forever.

So the redemption of God is both vertical and horizontal. Yet, Christians tend to focus on the former while ignoring, downplaying, or openly resisting the latter.

If anyone imagines that they and their religion are exempt from this historical observation, ask yourself a simple question. Despite the many ways you are a good person, who are the human beings who to you are "other"? These are the individuals, groups or parties that you see as different and not in a good way. They are excluded from your life and certainly your heart. Just the fact of their existence, but especially if they are competing for something you want, is threatening to you. The "other" are those who do not meet standards that you yourself fail to meet sometimes in your life. But when the "other" disappoints you or commits a wrong, you likely blame it on internal traits, and therefore are apt to talk judgmentally about them. Yet when you or your in-group commit a similar wrong, you likely blame it on external causes, and therefore are apt to talk about you and your group in terms of the need for understanding and mercy.(5)

How do you think of certain people or groups? How do you speak of them? The poor, the rich, blacks, Hispanics, Indians, Asians, whites, gays, straights, liberals, conservatives, men, women, the old, the young, the disabled, immigrants, non-English speakers, other religions? Create your own list. Who is "other" in your heart?

Judging from the rampant otherness in the world's societies, including our own, it seems that people from all religions have learned to exorcise social justice and responsibility from their personal piety in direct contradiction to their religion's teachings. And yet, here-and-now horizontal reconciliation is the only evidence that vertical reconciliation has occurred at all.


In Christianity, for example, you must love and treat others the way you want to be loved and treated. Nor can you claim to love a God you have never seen, and not love persons you can see all around you. (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31; 1 John 4:19-21) In Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats, not to care for society's least cared for, is not to care for God. And no heaven for you. Don't believe me. Check for yourself (Matthew 25:31-46).

One of the most powerful of Jesus' teachings on otherness and reconciliation is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10: 25-37)

The parable is a response to an expert in Judaism who attempted to separate love of God from love of people, even though he just finished saying (and Jesus thereafter affirmed) that the two loves are inseparable "in order to inherit eternal life". (Luke 10: 25-28)

"...You shall love the Lord your God....and your neighbor as yourself", says the religious expert, quoting famous commands (Deuteronony 6:5; Leviticus 19:18) in the Torah (or "Law" as it is translated in most English Bibles), the first five books of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible. Jesus replies, "You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live."

The expert then asks Jesus "...and who is my neighbor?" People are listening to the conversation, you see. And the expert needs to justify his unspoken but clearly narrow definition of "neighbor" as being applied mostly to those who belong to his in-group, in order to continue his exclusion of untold numbers of people, classes and groups, and still be able to "inherit eternal life."

To me, this religious expert represents all religious people past and present who want the world to believe that they love God even while maintaining otherness in their hearts and social institutions. The Parable of the Good Samaritan refutes this as a lie.

In the parable, a traveler is beaten, robbed, stripped naked and left for dead. A Jewish priest sees him but passes by on the other side of the road. A Levite, or member of the priestly class, also keeps to the other side of the road and does nothing. But a Samaritan [whom Jerusalem Jews despised as half-breeds with a competing, illegitimate temple of worship at Mt. Gerizim (John 4:9, 21)] had compassion on the traveler, bound up his wounds, took him to an inn and paid all the costs for his stay and recovery.

Dinah Roe Kendall, "The Good Samaritan"

Jesus then asks: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?"

The Jewish expert was checkmated and he knew it. For the Priest and the Levite in the story were part of his in-group, and any such story would have included them as the most likely candidates to be the heroes. But instead, the person he would have thought the least likely candidate, a Samaritan, turns out to be the one with true religion.

The lesson is so plain that even a child can see it, and so to Jesus' question the Jewish expert must answer: "The one who showed mercy [on the traveler]." Jesus responds: "Go and do likewise."

This parable can be viewed from many angles. It has often been pointed out that Jesus refutes the unscriptural and hypocritical narrowing of "who is my neighbor?" by turning the tables and effectively saying: You are asking the wrong question. The real question you have to answer is, "To whom are you a neighbor?"

I find the logic here to be profound. The religious expert's original question was, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" But then he sought to justify himself not being a neighbor by implying an outward cause: that is, there are many people who are not worthy to be called my neighbor, and I am therefore not required to love them as I love myself. Jesus' response argues: You didn't ask what other people had to do so that you can inherit eternal life. You asked what you had to do. That was the right question. Your second question about who is a neighbor to you was the wrong one. For people do not have to be neighbors to you for you to inherit eternal life. Their actions don't save or condemn you. You have to be a neighbor to them. All of them. Your actions save or condemn you.(6)

Though Jesus does not use terms like "in-group" and "other", his parable effectively obliterates any in-group expression, including religious, that maintains otherness.

In the parable, the assaulted traveler is "other" both to the robbers who nearly kill him and to the religious who would have let him die. The Samaritan is "other" to Jerusalem Jews like the expert questioning Jesus, who would never have thought to include him in any story where he was God's hero.

And of course, Jesus himself is "Other" -- a sort of archetypal Samaritan who, as the teacher of this parable (as well as in the gospels as a whole), crosses the road out of love for a person so dehumanized, so disregarded and treated as "other" that even laying there and bleeding out the last drops of his life, no one else, not even those who claimed to know and love God, had enough compassion to save him, even though it was mandated by their faith and well within their power to act. During his ministry Jesus repeatedly crossed the road to get to "others", at great cost to his reputation.(7)


This parable powerfully illustrates what reconciliation is all about. There is no vertical reconciliation with God without horizontal reconciliation with others. The work of horizontal reconciliation, and not just vertical, is how we join God in ending otherness forever.

To put it another way, to end otherness, every single one of us, like Jesus the archetypal Samaritan, must cross the road. Christians will readily acknowledge that Christ crossing the road was the greatest divine act of all. If so, then people crossing the road may well be the greatest human act of all.

Why did Jesus cross the road? To get to the "other".

Should we not all "go and do likewise"?


Ruben Rivera
-------
Note: I wonder if Christians today are in some ways like the Jerusalem religious leaders in Jesus day? In other words, who are the Samaritan "others" to Christians today? One glaring example in a post-9/11 world is Muslims. Can American Christians imagine a world in which Muslims can be God's heroes? What reaction would we get in our churches if someone preached on "The Parable of the Good Muslim"? (Stay tuned. That will be the subject of my next article.)
---------
Notes:
1. A recent helpful book in this regard is Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice, Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing (IVP, 2008).
2. For the issue as related particularly to race, see, Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford University Press, 2001).
3. Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation (Abingdon, 1996).
4. Special Beauty Report: Erasing Ethnicity, MSN Report, 27 Oct 2007 (google "erasing ethnicity" to find articles).
5. See chapter 8 in Emerson and Smith on the inward preferential and outward prejudicial tendencies of ingroup dynamics.
6. Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats (or last judgment) is clear on this (Matthew 25:31-46).
7. Perhaps one of the greatest insults Jesus' opponents hurled at him was this: "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan who is demon possessed?" (John 8:48). Of course Jesus had his own harsh words for those who robbed religion of love, social justice and mercy and replaced them with ritual, hypocrisy and oppression, especially against those who challenged their authority (Matthew 23).

40 comments:

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Your knowledge surpasses many a scholar because you balance HEART with all that you have acquired in education. Love is the final frontier and interesting that the French word for "border" is "frontière"....may we all cross the borders that culture invents and get to the "other" with the love of JESUS.

Love you, MOI

Patricia Cabrera said...

Hi Ruben,
Love the post of course!(grin) The word of God is so very simple, is the gospel but its application is os very hard because *sin* is before each one of us as the Bible do teach us that there is no one good.

I am looking forward to see your next post. yur title left me wondering.... Happy Thanksgiven , my friend! warm hugs~

Debbie said...

God, the Holy Other, so loved sinful others, that God came to earth as socially other in order to end otherness forever.
-- so beautiful Ruben. Why is it that so few get it? Switching Muslim for Samaritan is the modern day parable ... and one that would incite so many to anger and division. INTERESTING ISN'T IT that this simple parable ... spoken and practiced today would be viewed as very politically incorrect or GOD FORBID viewed as unpatriotic. As long as there are teachers like you who have HEART, then maybe you can leave your students with something that they will carry through throughout their lives ... to ask the right questions and to live with right intentions and actions.

my love to Anita.

xoxo
Deb

Vernon "Chico" Rowland said...

Thank you for a simple, yet insighful post. You have given me the words I've struggled to come up with when discussing reconciliation: horizontal reconciliation.

Please explain: "not even those who claimed to know and worship the only true God, had enough compassion to save him, even though it was well within their power." How was it well within their reach?

Your friend,
Vernon Chico Rowland

Edie Marie's Attic said...

If every "other" would read these words with an understanding heart & mind the world would be an awesome place for "others" to live! I love the vertical/horizontal image, you can't have one with out the "other"!!

Great post Ruben!! Thank you!

Hugs, sherry

Ruben Rivera said...

Dear Chico,

I refer to the simple act of BEING a neighbor. But for that to happen they must cross the road. We all have the power to cross the road. But will we? Crossing the road can be the greatest of all human acts.

Ruben

Ryan said...

Hi Professor Rivera,
One of the things that still gets me is the picture that you have posted of what a typical 1st century Aramaic Speaking Jew would look like. In my opinion, I don't think that Jesus would be welcome in any of our typical white evangelical churches, especially in the context of our last class on the Divided by Faith book.

-Ryan

Vashti said...

I really like your dual concept of horizontal and vertical reconciliation. I agree that true vertical reconciliation will be accompanied by horizontal reconciliation. I think that it can be equally as challenging to achieve horizontal reconciliation without vertical reconciliation.

I also see horizontal reconciliation as going hand-in-hand with the idea of "crossing the road." This idea at first seems so easy, yet it quite a challenge to live out this ultimate act of love.

Hannah said...

I do agree that in today's world we have a problem with the horizontal reconciliation. Personally at our school, the thing that completely turns me off when I hear the word reconciliation is that many times it is not reconciliation at all. It turns into blame and one side trying and getting rejected as not good enough. I do agree with the parables and stories and that we need to work everyday to walk across the road but i feel that every single human being struggles and needs to work on this.

jivory7 said...

One of the aspects of faith that I've seen manifest most withing myself since I've been in this class is the focus on MY relationship with God (or vertical reconciliation). I think that vertical is all that matters, yet I know that vertical should inspire horizontal. I we say that we are devoting our lives to God, it should be seen in our actions. If we fail to achieve horizontal reconciliation, we are failing at achieving vertical reconciliation as well (even if we think otherwise).

nina-rasmusen said...

I appreciate your points Ruben. Growing up, I often heard messages with a strong focus on piety, and if not on the vertical relationship, than on "horizontal" relationships with people who were just like "us." Due to studying of the scriptures, reading, and self-searching I have come to realize that horizontal relationships with the other are necessary. Sometimes I struggle by swinging to the other side of the pendulum and unilaterally focusing on the horizontal and the vertical relationship becomes neglected.

I would add too that often times when I think "other" i think the least of these in society, which is often mentioned in scriptures. In current day society this would be the poor, POC, homosexuals, people with disabilities etc. It is very difficult for me to come to grips with the fact that my personal "other" is white conservatives and that I am called to love them as well.

David Kim said...

I appreciate this post, Ruben, specifically the section on Jesus' replacing the question "who is my neighbor?" with "to whom are you a neighbor?" I also enjoyed your analysis of the two pieces of the Cross.

I would like to pursue further discussion focusing on how we navigate the road to the "other." I believe it is complex, and necessarily includes a divestation of power. Volf asserts is that the key to genuine reconciliation is the "embrace" of the "other," how can we do so systemically, as we acknowledge the oppression embedded not only in individuals but in societal structures as well?

Also, I take a slightly different approach with regards to the two elements of reconciliation. I see the two elements as inseparable; we cannot achieve one without the other. Thus I do not believe that evangelicals succeeded in the work of vertical reconciliation. Abraham Heschel writes in THE PROPHETS:

"Justice is not an ancient custom, a human convention, a value, but a transcendent demand, freighted with divine concern. It is not only a relationship between man and man, it is an ACT involving God, a divine need. Justice is His line, righteousness His plummet (Isa. 28:17). It is not one of His ways, but in all His ways. Its validity is not only universal, but also eternal, independent of will and experience."

God's very essence is just; thus we can only attain the vertical reconciliation with Him through our pursuit of justice among our human brothers and sisters. At the same time, it is impossible to pursue justice for humanity without pursuing vertical reconciliation with God; because we are created "in His image," any pursuit of a godless justice is not truly humanist (note: not secular humanist), as we would then be pursuing an inhumane construction of what it means to be fully human (and that has been disastrous in the past). I'm looking forward to continuing the dialogue in class Monday.

reatta_p said...

I really liked the idea of us being the world’s major source of seeing salvation. How could one know that God is loving, merciful, and forgiving, if the ones that follow that God and are supposed to be transformed by him are not? There cannot be a disparity between the way God treated people and the way man does. This may be hard of course because we are, after all, human, but I know that I could try a whole lot harder than I am now.
One thing I didn’t understand about this and many other religious writing I read is the symbolism of the cross. The vertical and horizontal salvation imagery though creative and nice is really just a Roman death device.

reatta_p said...

That said I know nothing about that historically. I just don’t understand all the symbolism that I hear surrounding the type of “tree” that our lord died upon. Shouldn’t we praise the sacrifice of God and not the shape he suffered on?

olivia-lindberg said...

The part that I found to be most benifical was the part in which you challenge to think of certain people in groups and how we think about them, and ask ourselves, who is other in my head?

I think that is important because I don't think a lot of people are entirly aware of their own prejuidices..and it is essential to reconciliation because in order to effectly reconcile, one must understand what is in their heart in which they need to reconcile personally before they can help reconcile in the world.

anniesproule said...

First off Ruben I love how you are not afraid to directly challenge us as Christians. So often I feel that the topic of reconciliation is seen as too controversial for Christian discussion, and therefore is overlooked or in a sense fabricated to liking. I think that many Christians feel as if they are not a part of this problem and as a result don’t get involved. How can a Christian consider themselves a disciple of Christ if they choose to be ignorant to the problem which God preached. Horizontal reconciliation is an issue which is undervalued, and like you said horizontal reconciliation must first be established before horizontal reconciliation exists.

Matt said...

There is a lot of truth here. I often think that our culture has taken Christianity and made it into a product of “cheap grace”. Many people simply go through the motions without truly recognizing the sacrifice of Christ. This blog is another example of the radical life that Christ lived. Jesus refused to submit with the culture around him and as a result would ultimately pay with his blood. Vertical reconciliation is important and there is no doubt that Christ was vertically reconciled. Yet he also stepped out as an example in the importance of horizontal reconciliation. Too often our focus on vertical reconciliation becomes a mundane ritual of formalism. This then runs the danger as mentioned above of cheapening grace.

matthew marschel said...

The part that sticks out to me is about the questions the guy asked Jesus. Where it says the first question was the right one and the second one was the wrong one. I like how you brought up that you shouldn't worry about who is your neighbor, but instead worry about being everyone else's neighbor. I would agree that without horizontal reconciliation then there isn't truly vertical reconciliation. We therefore need to follow Jesus and be neighbors to everyone even if they don't consider us their neighbors.

Kirsten said...
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Kirsten said...

I think that using the parable of the Good Samaritan for this section of reading was a good idea. The man was beaten and bullied and left for dead, and he was passed by two people just like him. When the Good Samaritan came to the man, he saved his life. I don't think we realize how much this can hit home. Jesus was telling us that everybody is our neighbor. We have to remember to love everyone who is different than us, even those who are harder to love.

David Vavra said...

Great Article. I love when you talk of vertical reconciliation and horizontal reconciliation. It is so true that in order to have vertical reconciliation you must have horizontal reconciliation. This is something that has been lost in our Christian society. We need to act as the Good Samaritan did by helping our neighbors. In the article you then ask two questions: who is my neighbor and to whom are you a neighbor? I thought this was so good because we all know who are neighbors are, which the answer is everyone. But the real question is “to whom are you a neighbor?” It is so good to reflect and really think about who I have been a neighbor too. Has it been just to my in-group or has it included the “other”?

Nikki said...

"And yet, here-and-now horizontal reconciliation is the only evidence that vertical reconciliation has occurred at all." It seems that somehow this is the most misunderstood, forgot, and/or ignored truth of the church. We care so much about numbers - attendance and offering - that we forget about the life Jesus modeled. This blog was preaching to the choir for me, but then how do I share it? There is no explanation or predesignated way to share this truth with those who do not already see where you're coming from. This is my challenge.

Erin said...

I think the part that stood out to me the most was the idea of "other." We spend so much of our lives trying to build relationships and communities, and we don't realize how this can often lead to an us vs. them mentality. It seems like with every division in the church we are viewing more and more people as the "other." It is unfortunate that as Christians we can't be more of an example of what it really means to love thy neighbor.

beingsavedfromherself said...

Great piece. One thing that I've been wondering lately concerns the phrase, "...as you would have them do unto you." My roommates and I have been exploring how to genuinely love people and that phrase has taken on a new meaning for me. The way I want to be treated is NOT necessarily the way my roommates experience love. Kind of like we talked about last week, this is where relationship becomes important and getting to know the person that you are interacting with; not just assuming that they understand the motive of your actions!
--Erin Nordberg

Alissa Bahe said...

What resonated most with me was how Jesus answered the question "who is MY neighbor?" with "to whom are YOU a neighbor?". It made me question who I truly treat in the manner God has called us to love, and who I consider to be "other" and preferentially exclude. I challenged myself with the thought "Would I have treated Jesus as an 'other'?". Based on the sole fact that I am even able to come up with a list of those who are 'other' in my heart, I came to the troubling conclusion that I very well may have. I often fall into the trap of seeing the world around me as what needs fixing when it comes to reconciliation, and need to be reminded that I myself have a role in the problem, as well as the solution. It is good to be reminded that our vertical reconciliation with God must be manifested in horizontal reconciliation not just with some, but with ALL.

Zach Haskins said...

I think we need to have a bigger push for horizontal reconciliation, but I still feel that vertical reconciliation, or my relationship with God comes first. Although vertical reconciliation is what I think is more important, I feel that horizontal reconciliation is needed to correctly gain vertical reconciliation. It seems that you can start on vertical reconciliation or start up the vertical part of the cross, but you cannot get to the top of the vertical part of the cross without going past the horizontal part of it first. In a way I believe that both vertical and horizontal reconciliation are needed and that they build on each other.

Jeremy Funk said...

Hi Ruben
Very good piece, I think it is very interesting...
I really think that we have to get horizontal reconciliation to end up getting the vertical reconciliation with God.
our society needs to focus on both of these in order to eliminate some of the bad views in the society. if we do this we will grow closer to God and be a better person for it!

Brittany Nelson said...
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Brittany Nelson said...

I really like the idea that reconciliation has to happen both horizontally and vertically; I've never thought about it as reflecting the sign of the cross until you mentioned it in class. I also believe that if people can't reconcile among people, then how can we ultimately reconcile with God? He sees all and knows what lies within our hearts, so we should show ourselves for who we truly are and fight for reconciliation in all aspects of the world.

IanLippert said...

I love the elaboration on the particular spiritual understanding of the physical elements of the cross. It’s easy to see how too often the church as a whole getting caught up in improving their lives from their own understandings. Weekly sermons are usually formed to create solutions of improving their own Christianity from their own personal realities. This horizontal reconciliation casts a light onto the areas that, from my personal experiences, I’ve never seen the church address. Horizontal reconciliation addresses the other HALF to what the church typically would address today. Individualism seems to be as much of a definition of our secular country as it is apart of our Church’s. From my personal experiences, I have seen my “adult services” address more scriptural lessons that are convenient to those who live in the nearby communities. Whereas the youth group I grew up in, in contrast, was the area in which you could work on horizontal reconciliation. Mission trips to Vancouver to help the homeless, community service works, etc. It is interesting to contrast the adult ministries of churches, compared to those of youth ministries. Those with less of a social construct seem to be more active in the communities.

Kurt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
killer seabird said...

I liked the paragraph that discussed the parable of the good
muslim where American Christians were portrayed as the people
who pass by without a second glimpse. I had that same picture of Jesus
as my background for awhile, it still surprises me how quickly people
dismiss the importance of the face of Jesus; and the white idolatry
that continues to permeate American Christian churches as Jesus continues to
portrayed as a white savior.

I have heard this symbolism of "vertical & horizontal" reconciliation a
few times now and I believe that they are inseparable
from one another. There could not have been reconciliation with God,
Jesus dying for our sins, if Jesus was not reconciled with the "others"
of society. Even with Christ there was no seperation of vertical and
horizontal, they both were necessary to complete and sustain
reconciliation.

What would be defined as TRUE RECONCILIATION? How far must we go to pursue
this reconciliation with "others" and God (i.e. what should we be willing
to do and sacrifice?)Christians are more prone to strive for vertical
reconciliation and forget horizontal reconciliation because vertical
reconciliation is personally beneficial (i.e. eternal salvation)
whereas horizontal reconciliation requires personal sacrifice for it
to come to fruition.

I think that we must address the possibility that reconciliation is not what it
needs to be, is not achieving what it was meant to achieve, or maybe it
is acheiving exactly what it was meant to achieve, something that is not
enough. Maybe it is time to create a new type of reconciliation
that does not allow people to stay comfortable and apathetic. I do not
believe that individual reconciliation is enough and if this is what is
meant by the term reconciliation than I think that "reconciliation" in
itself is another way to undermine and divide oppressed peoples. I think
Christians have started to believe that individual reconciliation is the
only way, that those who do not believe in this type of "reconciliation" are
hateful and such because they have not conformed to and submitted to this
one type. People hide behind the facade of "reconcilers" to further shun the
"others" that do not agree with their methods of "reconciliation."

If we find that reconciliation is useful then how can we implement it to be used
on a global level, addressing systemic issues in this country and around the world.
In other words how can we achieve reconciliation on a larger scale than on an
individual level?

Kurt said...
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Kurt said...

A few weeks ago I went over by the Guthrie with a group of friends from Bethel. It was a cold night and after walking about for nearly two hours my feet were wet and freezing while the wind began to pierce my face and somehow find its way into my coat. On the walk back to my car I couldn’t help but think of all the men and women huddled along Minneapolis’ cold allies and streets. It was then that I heard someone say, “Did you all bring your boxes?” Indicating that we were spending the night on the streets. This crude joke brought me to repulsion. The joke was a form of distancing. In dehumanizing the poor, outcasts, or the “others” in our lives, we walk past them one on the road and think nothing of it.
I find your thoughts, Ruben, to challenge my own need, and the Church’s need to create distance between ourselves, social issues and injustice so that we do not have to take responsibility.

EmilyRichetto said...

I really love the way you approach this subject, because as we have discussed in class, so many are turned off to the idea before they truly understand it. Also, I love the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. It is an incredible and meaningful lesson in compassion, but the implications of the story are even greater. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews, looked down upon, and treated terribly simply due to the fact that they were Samaritans. Jesus, as he proves time and time again that he came for the "other", tells this parable and stuns the Jewish leaders of the day. Jesus came for the "other", he sought after them, he cared for them, he loved them. And yes, we Christians SHOULD DO LIKEWISE.

gmk77665 said...

It is a definite challenge for me, as well as everyone. Loving "others" that are physically present can be hard because of differences that one may disagree with, but God loves them just as much as he loves he/she. I had read this verse before, but I looked up Matthew 25:31-46 to read through it again. It is very evident in this passage that treating "others" wrong, is just like treating God wrong. It is a parallel line from God to his creation.

Witness said...
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Witness said...

Ruben,
First off, thank you so much for posting this. I find that all too often, some churches tip-toe right over the concept of what true reconciliation is. I believe that horizontal reconciliation is so essential because Jesus asks us how we can love God who we cannot see, but not love our neighbors whom we can see. This seems to be the simplest concept to grasp, but in reality, so many of us Christians struggle with this. One other passage that would, I think would explain this concept well is Matthew 25:35-40. The very things that we do to others, we are doing to Christ. Is the fact that someone is homosexual a valid reason to not love them? Christ said Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Verlisha

killer seabird said...

Sorry, I just realized that my name was not recognizable... killer_seabird is Iwalani

Ann Nichols said...

Dear Ruben,
It does not surprise me at all that you are dear Anita's husband! This essay is just wonderful and a topic I often consider. Studying about St. Nicholas and his real association with Christmas and reading from the Church Fathers backs up your words.
Blessings to you and your very special wife,
Ann
PS Please enter my GIVEAWAY - I'm quite sure it's something you and Anita would really enjoy! :)
PSS Are you feeling better? I hope so.