Friday, October 23, 2015

One-way traffic

So, reality is Jesus-shaped.  I want to say that in as unqualified a manner as possible, without any hedging or quibbling.  I take it to be a foundational truth - perhaps the foundational truth - that everything is about, and revolves around, Jesus Christ.

But now let me qualify our experience of that.

My qualification comes in the form of traffic direction.  When we are talking about Jesus and reality, our thinking needs to follow the one-way system.  We move from Jesus of Nazareth - his life, death, resurrection, and ascension - to reality.  Jesus and his story is the first stop, and from that we can make interpretive moves in the direction of the world.  We cannot move the other direction.  We cannot start with reality and make interpretive moves in the direction of Jesus.

The point is interpretive control.  We may, and must, interpret our experience of reality in the light of Christ, and as we do so we will not be surprised to find his story reflected there.  We may not, and must not, interpret Christ in the light of our experience of reality.

The reason is the cross.  The story tells us that Jesus the Christ died in the place of a sinful world; and that in his death, the world itself died.  As a Christian, the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  That means that I can no longer interpret my own experience of the world in a straight-forward way.  The story tells me that I, the interpreter, have died.  It tells me that the world, the interpreted, has died.  Moreover, it tells me that I do not know what the world will finally be, or what I myself will finally be.  All my experience is provisional, even my self-experience.

The story tells me that I don't have access to the world as it ought to be, or as it was made to be.  Nor do I have access to myself as I ought to be and will be.  My whole experience of the world stands under the sign of the cross - my experience, with the world itself, is judged and condemned, in order to be raised at the last day.  Then I will know what it was all about.  Now I can only know Jesus, and the world in him and through his death and resurrection.

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