exhibit A: (from Stranger at the Gate, by Mel White. He's talking about his friendship with a man who has just died):
"The Jesus whom he loved and followed was a radical young teacher who preferred the company of sinners and outcasts, who raged at church leaders for their hypocrisy and demanded honesty from everyone. The Gospel that Jim preached was the Gospel of personal liberation, and those who had been liberated by that Gospel were called to liberate all others who suffered. Jim's lectures ... helped me understand how religious leaders often protect and preserve the status quo while God raises up in every generation a handful of courageous prophets to confront the church and keep the truth alive."
I know that Jesus. And this week, I've been wishing he would get off my back.
Exhibit B: "Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children - this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers - this is our greatest offense
Oh my God."
- Jars of Clay
Exhibit C: The seven woes, from Matthew 23. Jesus says that the Pharisees are tying up heavy loads and putting them on men's shoulders, without doing a thing to lift them. They're shutting the kingdom of heaven in men's faces, and making converts twice as much a son of hell (!). He accuses them of neglecting the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy, and faithfulness - to focus on the details. He says they are straining out a gnat, but swallowing a camel.
Exhibit D: In John 8, Jesus ignored the letter of the law to show mercy - and He was perfect in every way.
In my own life, I've been standing in this scene of the woman who is about to be stoned for a long time, frozen by ambivalence. Here's something of my train of thought - "but the law says ... but this can't be right ... but it does say ... but what about mercy? and love? ... but it says it right here ..." Meanwhile the woman is just hoping to live.
By the way, I was talking to a friend the other night about this. Her response was, "You're ambivalent? I thought you were just apathetic." God forgive me.