Howard Thurman is visiting with me this morning through his book, Deep Is The Hunger. He has been a friend for a long time. His words have often electrified my spirit and given me hope. This morning as I ponder this week called Holy and the events of long ago that have caused us to name it so, Thurman’s words help me understand it in a new way.
“The crucifixion of Jesus Christ reminds us once again of the penalty which any highly organized society exacts of those who violate its laws. The social resistors fall into two general groups—those who resist the established order by doing things that are in opposition to accepted standards of decency and morality: the criminal, the antisocial, the outlaw; and those who resist the established order because its requirements are too low, too unworthy of the highest and the best in man. Each is a menace to organized society and both must be liquidated as disturbers of the peace. Behold then the hill outside the city of Jerusalem, the criminal and the Holy Man sharing a common judgment, because one rose as high above the conventions of his age as the other descended below. Perhaps it is ever thus. Whenever a Jesus Christ is crucified, there will also be crucified beside him the thief—two symbols of resistance to the established pattern. When Christianity makes central its doctrine the redemptive significance of the cross, it defines itself ever in terms of the growing edge, the advance guard of the human race, who take the lead in man’s long march to the City of God.”
The teachings of Jesus were a menace to his society and continue to be a menace today. William Stringfellow writes, “The demonic powers (what the Bible calls “principalities”) curse human beings who resist them. I mean the term curse quite literally, as a condemnation to death…In earlier times, American Indians were cursed as savages in order to rationalize genocide….slavery involved cursing blacks as humanly inferior.” Hitler officially defamed and cursed the Jewish people condemning them to death. What group is being officially defamed and cursed in today’s society? “Behold then the hill outside the city of Jerusalem, the criminal and the Holy Man sharing a common judgment, because one rose as high above the conventions of his age as the other descended below.”