Sunday, 9 July 2017

To be or not to be

Hamlet's famous question is perhaps a good place to start as we ponder our lives as Christians.  Paul writing to the Roman's enunciates this question in as weird a way as possible (Rom. 7.14-25) which leaves us wondering what it is he has actually said.  It is the reality of our struggle that Paul writes about showing us clearly the confusion in which we approach our normal lives.  We distinctly cut up our lives into a continuum of dualistic mannerisms that are constantly opposed to each other.  Not only is it our own actions but also the way we perceive the other.  Dualism is embedded into our lives from the moment we are born and yet when we come to baptism we are released from this dualistic thinking into Christ.

At baptism we are brought into the life of Christ, an initiation into the Christian faith but also an initiation into Christ-likeness.  In attempting to live our faith, not I hasten to add our religion, we are asked to embed ourselves into Christ and become like Christ.  Here is the issue for us as we divide Christ and us as being two separate things.  In doing so we create for ourselves a schizophrenic pattern that imbues the remainder of our lives.  Christian life asks us to do this but we are inclined to do that (the essence of Paul).  To be or not to be that is the question suggests Hamlet.  To live a Christian life or to not live a Christian life.  Our being is embedded into how we live, at baptism we ask the parents and godparents of the child to embed into their child a sense of Christ.  For the child the tension should not be there as they are succoured by their guides in life on the Christian way.  Yet, because we ourselves, as parents and godparents, are filled with our own doubts as to how we live as Christians so we form the dualistic thinking within the child.

Our source of division is within ourselves

The child is being formed by the environment in which it is raised, so if the parent or godparent is doubting as to the purpose of Christ in their lives or the life of Christ in their lives then the child will pick this up as it grows and will be as confused or as uncertain as their parent or godparent.  This does not mean that the parent or godparent should go around quoting the bible and the scriptures and pretending to be holier than thou.  This is just to say that we as parents or godparents are just as dualistic in our thinking as any other person.  We have to undertake a real transformation within ourselves before our children can start to become less of who we are and more of who Christ is.  The Romans dilemma will always be with us, no matter who we are, until such time as we live the life that Christ gives to us.

We are hesitant to take up Christ in our time as this is counter intuitive to the world around us.  A world that is pervaded by a dualistic thinking and a view of self that is grounded in the individual.  Christ(ian) life is found in the extensive network of relationships that enhance our selves as relational people caring for the other.  This throws out all of our society's preconceived notions that the individual is greater than the community.  We regress to become more, we throw out some of ourselves to become greater; we die to sin and are born again into new life.  Our struggle with our own being is a struggle to understand ourselves and to grow towards divinity in Christ.  We are bound each day by this struggle of identity within our lives: To be Christlike or not to be Christlike that is the question!

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