Archive for April, 2011


Thorns

Many of us understand the concept of a thorn.  Most of the time, we think of a sharp part of a plant or tree, like a rose, that makes things difficult in dealing with them.  They hurt, and anyone who has lived near thorned plants has bled a time or three. 

They are so prevalent that they have permeated our consciousness, and they represent something that keeps us from making progress quickly or hinder us from moving forward easily.  Thus the comment, “It’s a thorn in my side”.  Sometimes it’s even directed at a person.

In the Christian faith we have an example of what a thorn can mean from two different angles.  One is the example above.  The apostle Paul talked about praying for God to remove the thorn from his side.  He refers to it as something that is there to keep him from being too prideful, and it’s something that he has prayed repeatedly for God to remove it from Him.  In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 we see him do just that.  There is a lesson that we all can relate to in that passage.

But on this day of days.  There is another way to see thorns.  When Jesus was standing accused, he was beaten and punished severely.  The soldiers that kept guard over him, ridiculed his divinity and his royalty.  They created a crown, one they thought was a mocking and empty crown in Matthew 27:27-31.  But this set of thorns is exactly what we who profess in a saviour understand as his purpose and sacrifice.  With dignity, and even majesty, in the face of abject torture, humiliation, and the eventual death in a horrific public display, Christ wore the crown of thorns like the King we all needed.  He wore the crown we would never wear ourselves.

Thorns represent those things that keep us from easily moving forward, growing, developing, or being.  Thorns also represent the sacrifice that we are called to daily.

Which thorn do you identify with?  A thorn in your side, or the glorious thorns upon our brow.  We on this Good good Friday, are called to identify with Christ’s suffering.  Could you wear the indignity and shame with submissive authority and grace?  I am much more familiar with the hinderance instead of the symbol of sacrifice.

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During a discussion with a friend of mine, I was confronted with both the best and worst that human emotion brings.  Rather than implicate my friend specifically, I will speak in general terms.  They were expressing the utmost anger at how injustice makes itself manifest in her world.  Now, she isn’t the type to lose her head.  She has always been an level-headed woman.  Her heart is a good one.  But, at the end of her rope, seeing injustice over and over and over, she snapped (in her own words).  She did something decidedly against her character.  She cursed and cursed… and cursed.  Out loud.  But, in a room by herself.

It’s understandable, and actually to most people an appropriate choice if they knew the situation.  I personally feel it’s justifiable.  Actually, in response to hearing the story, I felt the urge to curse repeatedly.  And I wouldn’t have resorted to being in a room alone when it happened.  For me, I would have told the people responsible for the blatant injustices to their face how I felt.  I’m not sure that I would have been restrained enough to resist cursing at them.  But, not for my friend.

Anger consumes us sometimes.  Especially anger that stems from situations that are just wrong.  When compassionate hearts grieve with the useless pain and suffering of others, it’s easy to be enraged.  Even the best of souls can meet the end of the ability to absorb that type of thing.  On behalf of my friend, I am proud of the fact that it bothers her so much.  I’m even kind of proud of how she finally let it all out. 

Yet, it’s not what we should do.  Christians shouldn’t act like that.  We’re held to a higher standard.  For it’s not just being angry at someone, but Christ says that it is the equivalent of murdering someone.

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” — Matthew 5:21-22

 But you know, I learned something from my friend’s reaction.  Where I would have been okay with her response, she showed me a side of a person that I think I should be.  A heart so passionate to be overwhelmed by injustice, is also the same passionate heart that is upset at the regrettable explosion.  She was guilty at her being a woman that she wasn’t supposed to be.  Most of society wouldn’t have a problem with a couple of expletives and caustic remarks. 

Her heart is one that is owned by a higher purpose.  I feel a little fallen and convicted at her response.  To be grieved in her soul about a momentary outburst, one that most people would consider justified and righteous, is a mark of a heart and character forged by a true relationship with God.  I believe it would be considered righteousness, and I’m honoured to be able to see such an example from someone I respected already… but now I respect ever so much more.  Not for the outburst of righteous anger, but for the righteous response.

And… for letting me see both sides of the same heart.

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