Leaving a spiritual legacy: 1-28/29-12
The centrality of paradox: 1-31-12

It's about being like Jesus: 1-30-12

A bit over a week ago here on the blog I featured a remarkable new book, Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, by Jack Mayer, about the fabulous woman who helped to save some 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II. (And who inspired my latest book.)


I want to return to the Life in a Jar book today to share with you a wonderful insight about Christianity delivered by a mother to her daughter. The daughter was among the rural Kansas high school students who created the play, "Life in a Jar," about Sendler. This conversation took place on returning from a visit to Warsaw to see Sendler.

Debra, the mother, had been in remission from cancer, but recently has discovered that the cancer is back and "has moved to my liver -- five spots. My blood test shows higher cancer markers. I'll need more chemotherapy."

Debra's daughter, Megan, begins to tear up and then asks her mother this: "Why can't it be like it was before? I pray all the time for you to be just like before."

Next comes Debra's wise and insightful answer, in which she nails a core essence of the Christian religon:

"There's always suffering, darling. . .You don't pray to Jesus to make everything better or to get what you want. That's what children do -- it's a magical way of thinking. Every time you walk into church, the first thing you see is a man on a cross. He died to save us -- not to give us everything we want -- to save us. That's what's so hard to understand. It's not about Him answering your prayers -- it's about you being like Him no matter what happens on this Earth. 'Thy will be done.' There will always be sadness and pain."

It is, of course, impossible to capture the whole of Christianity in a few short phrases -- or, for that matter, any religion at all.

But Debra's explanation that it's not about God answering our prayers it's about Christians seeking to be like Jesus gets the emphasis right, even if the concept of saving us can have several meanings. We all know, of course, that we'll never be fully like Jesus, which is why we need a savior, why we need grace. But that's the right vision for us Christians, the one that will put us on the right path.

* * *


Here's another example of a Muslim leader denouncing terrorists by people who claim to be Muslims: A former governor of a Nigerian state says the violent sect Boko Haram there can't be Islamic because it's violating what Islam stands for.The denunciation is good and standing up for traditional Islam is good. But it also would have been good to acknowledge that for some reason various terrorist organizations seem to keep finding reasons in Islam to exist. It's the same problem Christianity has dealt with concerning the Ku Klux Klan and similar extremists.


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