Remember this? Even if you don’t I bet you were affected by it.
It’s the Konami code. And I bet every little boy from the 80’s still knows it by heart. It was the code that you had to punch in to the Nintendo game Contra. And if you knew the above mentioned code you could get 30 lives instead of the initial 3.
In other words, it is a shortcut.
And it is the shortcut that certain pillars of our societies are built on. Don’t believe me? Well if you are reading this blog on Facebook then why don’t you just try this code out, type it in and hit enter and see what happens. But on a deeper level, this kind of shortcut mentality kind of characterizes our world today.
In Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, he talks about the men and women from my grandparents age. They were characterized by their ability to sacrifice for what they thought was right, and their willingness to stick things out in the tough situations. Granted, every generation has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but I am writing about them because their strength tends to help highlight our weakness.
Part of the reason the economy is in the tanks can be attributed to our desire to cut corners, and while I am not an economist, one of things that both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is this: We have forgotten as a country that a responsible work ethic is fundamental for society.
But that’s not really what concerns me.
Remember that story that kicks off Jesus’ ministry? The one where he is led out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Pay close attention to that story, because it’s interesting to me that Satan never tries to change Jesus end game. He offers Jesus power and authority over the nations of the world (he could be Caesar’s boss). Matthew’s gospel ends with Jesus receiving all authority…but he gets it in a very different way.
What Satan is getting at is not changing Jesus’ goals but offering him another way to get there. A way that doesn’t involve the cross. A shortcut.
And Jesus’ says no.
But go back and read that story. Because I think it’s interesting the things that Satan tempts Jesus with as an alternative to being the suffering servant. I won’t spoil the story for you, but it seems that the stuff that Jesus says no to, our Christian sub-culture spends much of it’s time saying yes to.
Here’s what I am getting at. The common idea of what it looks like to follow Jesus is too small. I’m not saying that we are saved by what we do, or anything even close to that, but we are saved for a purpose much larger than just us being saved. We are saved by the cross to pick up a cross. Or maybe saying it this way will help, We are saved by the sacrificial service of Jesus, so that we may sacrificially serve others.
And any gospel that forgets that part of the story we are in is too small.
It is a shortcut.
And in the words of Beverly Sills, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”