Wednesday, April 8, 2009

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

“Do you believe that?” my Muslim friend asked me after my brief abstract explanation of one of my Christian friend’s theology of redemption. I was struck by the question that had an obvious right answer, and struck by the fact that I didn’t know if I could give it.

It was an Evangelical Christian’s dream come true: my friend was in a terrible time of personal crisis, and the Christian notion of a God who was involved in the muck of our lives transforming it into something beautiful was both directly applicable and entirely foreign to her. All I had to do was give the right answer that I knew almost as early as I could say the word “yes.”

But it was not a good Evangelical she had with her that night... it was a girl whose faith was defined by the changing ways she railed at God over the years, and at that moment the rail had to do with this particular friend’s hell that God had seemed absent from. I wished I was any other Christian in that moment.

“I don’t know...” I stammered honestly. “I want to believe it. I try to believe it. Sometimes I think I do, and then things like last week happen...”

It has been a hard Lent for me. The world feels so much more unredeemable when one is swamped in an unredeemable situation. My brother quoted to me an Orthodox priest who said, “If one where to solve the problems of Jerusalem, he would have solved the problems of the world.” Sometimes I feel like if God could redeem even one of these broken lives I enter, he will have redeemed the world.

But that thought, the comparison of my friend’s hell to the grand picture of redeeming humanity, became a challenge for me in the next week. Over and over, I was struck by these small glimpses of redemption. They don’t look like redemption because they are so comparatively weak in comparison to the evil that happened; but they are like small glimmers of sunlight in a dark forest that let you know something greater is behind it. And I began to wonder if slowly, imperceptibly, God was indeed redeeming my Jerusalem.

Maybe he is. In the mean time, he can’t get upset at me for weeping about it all... he did indeed weep over Jerusalem, after all.

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