Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Why do we cheer when villain's are defeated?


Stories of suffering cry out for answers.
Bruised heroes and stories of anguish and pain resonate with us.
In Dostoevsky's The Brother's Karamazov suffering is present, hope is veiled and anticipated in resurrection. 
The defeat of death is longed for. Zmartwychstania.

Suffering is a normal part of human life.
Our western myth is that we don't have to suffer, that it's possible to just "enjoy your life".
See Francis Spufford's Unapologetic for an eloquent rebuttal of that patronising mumbo jumbo.
Most people on planet earth don't get that luxury of enjoyment.
Life is fatal, and in the mean time we gasp for each breath.
We want a new year to be better than the last.
But we have no certainty of such a story of progress.
Some years are good, some are bad...
And no one is reliably delivering an easy life today.
The hope appeals but remains beyond grasp.

Those who deny God still feel the pain and the injustice of the world, though its categories have been dismissed.
We think that the bad guy should lose.
Cinema depends on it.
Stories that appeal today echo the oldest stories we know.
The truest stories endure.

There are answers in the story of ancient Job.
Job is the archetypal righteous man.
Job is no villain.
He enjoys divine favour (feasting) and intercedes for his family, making atonement for them.
Job is a suffering servant.
A credible hero.
Is it a true story or truth through fiction? It reads as reality.
He has everything and then loses everything.
Job reflects:
[7] “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. [8] Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, [9] yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. [10] But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? (Job 14:7-10 ESV)
Cut a tree back and life returns. But for people?
Job knows desolation similar to that of The True and Greater Job, the LORD Jesus in his crucifixion.
The story that the book of Job points us to.
The story that the book of Job agrees with.
Job ponders, can there be anything for a man beyond death.
Yet, Jesus tells us that the seed must fall to the ground to bring life.
Not life then death, but death then life.

The race of Adam isn't redeemable.
He can make no successful new year's resolutions.
Adam must be put to death, and reborn.

And to that end, Jesus comes to live among us in our pain as one of us, and in being put to death to kill evil. Why do we cheer when villains are defeated - because that's the story that's meant to happen.
Evil should lose.
But defeating the bad guys isn't enough - because the great enemy is death.
Death stings everyone.
The ground is full of rotting corpses.
The statistic is true, and walking through the graveyards should cause us to question.
Death touches Job's family, though is own life is spared for a time.
And while he lives this man of sorrows reflects:
[25] For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. [26] And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, [27] whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27 ESV)
He believes in resurrection.
Death will come to him, all he has will be destroyed - yet with these eyes he will see his redeemer on this earth. He believes in resurrection.
Not pie in the sky when you die but a physical hope of the defeat of all enemies.

A real answer to suffering.
My redeemer has come into the world and though he died, life comes.
This I know. Really know.
Not life then death, but death then life. Yes, really.

It's why the physical, witnessed, historical resurrection of Jesus is the chief article of the Christian faith. That the Father raised his Son from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit - Trinity and Resurrection - to offer us the hope of death's defeat, the invitation to be with the Triune God on this earth, beyond death.
God involved to change everything.
And he did.

We cheer when villains lose because that is the story we live in.
Evil is defeated.
Death is defeated.
Darkness doesn't win.
Our yearning isn't futile.
Though it hurts and bewilders.
The final page hasn't happened yet but it will.
It's still to come, but it will happen because the LORD Jesus walked out of his tomb one Sunday morning in the Spring, outside Jerusalem.

Villains should and will lose.
The hero does win, but he carries his bruises into victory.

And so we hope. And we grieve.
And we fall. And we endure.
And we wait. And we weep.
And we anticipate. And we will see.

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