06 November 2012

Before I Give Up My Life, I Want to Be Sure This Is True

Choice means rejection. For every path we choose in our lives, there is one or two or three or more other paths which we rejected in the same moment we accepted the path that we chose.

Choosing to date this person rather than that person, to go in this class rather than that class, to take this job rather than that job––choosing to walk down one path in life necessarily means walking away from other paths that you might have chosen. That's what it means to make decisions.

And because time is ever pushing forward, none of us, not even those who do nothing, can avoid making decisions about the paths our lives will take.

But every now and then, we come to a spot where we look back over the path we've taken, and wonder, "Did I make the right choice?" And we think about turning back, because continuing down the path we're on somehow feels too risky.

Say you're a bright young Greek, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero, poised on the brink of a promising career. Your wealth, education, and family connections all foretell a glittering life ahead––evening parties at seaside villas, inside conversation with men of influence, and the attention of Rome's most eligible ladies––all of that––if you will but continue on the path you've been walking your whole young life.

But there's just one problem: your family doctor. Successful as he is, he's gone and joined this Jewish splinter-group called "The Way," and abandoned himself to sailing the known world in propagation of its message, a message you can't help but admit has unexpectedly taken root in your heart as well.

And that message is a man: Jesus, the son of the Most High, a light for revelation to Greeks, and for glory to the people of Israel, the kingdom of God come down in person. This is the message in which these followers of The Way have instructed you, and this is what now stands between you and the kind of future your parents had planned.

Why? For the simple reason that these Christianoi, these little Christs, as their opponents call them, have almost no standing in the greater Roman world. Even the Jews themselves––from whom the Christians claim their origin––have rejected the movement as an aberrant heresy to be pinned and mounted to a cross, like the Christ from whom the Christians draw their name.

Up until now, this movement has been something of a hobby for you, a fascination with the out-of-the-ordinary, as it were. But now that you recognize the consequences of being numbered among those of The Way, now that you see that becoming one of them may very well mean losing that golden future you had so anticipated, you wonder if maybe the time hasn't come to reconsider the solidity of the things in which these Christians have instructed you.

And into that moment of reconsideration, as though it were sent by the fates themselves, there arrives a gift from the good doctor, which your servant opens, and begins to read out loud in your hearing...


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