I must admit with some degree of embarrassment that I am uncontrollably drawn to one of the newest “hot series” on network TV: Scandal. It’s a show that portrays what are supposed to be some of our noblest leaders in the glaring light of their own human failings. In this show even the highest aspirations for the good of the people (us) does nothing to slake or curtail our leaders’ lust, greed, and/or desire for power. That’s the disturbing part. The other is that I can’t stop watching and can hardly wait to see what will be the twists and turns in the next episode.
Scandal draws us, entices and reels us in before we even know what is happening. But this newest version of scandal is not as groundbreaking as you might think. There is a scandal that literally the whole world was talking about and paying attention to in a way that no one, rich or poor, could ignore. It happened before TV, iPods, and TMZ, yet it skirted the known world. Its influence is still being felt today: Jesus and his Church.
So the idea of scandal is not as shameful as some might believe. The thing about scandal is that no one ignores it. We have to look even if injury and chaos are not our thing! That’s something primal that exists in our very bones.
The scandal of Jesus was so potent that even people who hated him had to hear what he spoke and see who he was. Crowds would gather around him with rich and poor rubbing elbows in a way that never would have happened in the “normal society” of the time. The things that Jesus was teaching and living were so radicle that people couldn’t believe their ears.
“The scandal of Christianity-–that the antidote to violence is not more violence, but love—is so extreme, so radical that in two thousand years we have not begun to accept it. Our egos can’t bear such meager results, such plodding slowness, such invisibility.” (Heather King in Magnificat, August 2013)
In fact Jesus had no meekness about his message. He openly declared that following him would be too much for the cowardly and faint hearted. He clearly announces himself as an arsonist and divider of homes. His pronouncement is straight forward as we see in Luke 12:49: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.”
He then goes on to describe the fallout that will come from what he will be teaching: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).
Jesus knew that in order to get peoples’ attention and to stir hearts and impact had to occur, something that they could not comfortably look away from. Jesus’ teaching was not meant to avoid scandal but to stir it up.
Scandal gives only two choices; for or against. The way of God is not the way of the world and it is not meant to be comfortable. If things about the Church and/or the world rile you and cause you to be scandalized, rather than ignore those issues, get closer. Then ask the Lord what your heart is supposed to learn and what you’re supposed to do about it. Scandal…you can’t look away!
Copyright © 2013, Kathryn M. Cunningham