Today I met a Dalek,
So full of fiery hate,
Tried to shoot me down,
While screaming “Exterminate!”.
What a frightful creature,
A shrunken little blob,
A horrid metal monster,
Driven onward by the mob.
I struck him down in anger,
Unleashed my inner beast,
And all the while my friends cheered on,
Until his life had ceased.
Suddenly I realised,
I had found it rather fun,
And shuddered at the thought,
Of the Dalek I’d become.
Sitting and flitting to and fro
Skimming, scanning, go, go, go
Screen time between the dream time
Thumbs prod onwards in the flow
Blogs and vlogs got me agog
Can’t stop now, there’s more to know
The first in a series of theological reflections drawn from The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) by Scottish philosopher and economist, Adam Smith.
Adam Smith notes that we greatly admire those who respond to hatred with a spirit of forbearance and patience. But there is a limit. We disdain those who seem to lack the sense and will to stand up for themselves.
A person becomes contemptible who tamely sits still, and submits to insults without attempting to repel or to revenge them. We cannot enter into his indifference and insensibility… Even the mob are enraged to see any man submit patiently to affronts and ill usage. They desire to see this insolence resented, and resented by the person who suffers from it. They cry to him with fury, to defend, or revenge himself. If his indignation rouses at last, they heartily applaud, and sympathize with it.
Jesus’ response to being arrested perfectly embodies the pathetic, passive and powerless approach that Smith describes. Isaiah prophesied about the final suffering of Jesus in this way:
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
It was not that Jesus never responded to his opponents. He was more than capable of publicly debating and rebuking them (Matthew 23). It is not that he enjoyed suffering on the cross. He dreaded it, pleaded for another way and felt the full physical and spiritual displeasure of the ordeal (Matthew 26:36-46). It was not that the Father forced him to suffer. Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who acts willingly (John 10:11-18). It was not that he was powerless to save himself. He tells his disciples to put away their swords because he could easily call upon legions of angels if he wanted to (Matthew 26:52-54).
Jesus suffered out of love. Loving obedience to his Father who sent him into a broken world. Loving sacrifice for a lost and rebellious humanity. And while the cross was an act of silent submission, it was also the ultimate act of power. On the cross God reconciled all things to himself, opening the way for relationship through faith in Christ (Colossians 1:15-23).
The cross is also not the end of the story. In his resurrection, Jesus is vindicated and enthroned. Jesus also spoke clearly and regularly of a time when he would return with the fury and judgment that Smith says we long for. But that day is delayed so that more may find refuge and reconciliation in the person of Christ.
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