Wen t'lawy'r finallee gut face time wiff Jesus, he pourt out whut wuz heeviest un his'n heert, “Teechur, whut must I do ta inhert eternal life?” He gropt fer a guarantee. He wantid a divine will an' testament. He wuz a'beggin fer a bill o'rights.As usual, Jesus pivotid un freedum. He wuz nev'r much into bein T' Bibull Anser Mun. He ast t'lawy'r hoe he interpretid t'sacrt text. T' lawy'r’s anser, accerdyun' ta Jesus, wuz spot-un. Eternitee’s mos valuabull asset hus nuthin ta do wiff whar we go wen we die. It is a gut-bustin luv fer bof air har pow'r an' air lowlee naybors. Rite here. Rite nawh.
Howev'r, t'lawy'r jes had ta press futher. He jes had ta knoe hoe fur t'boundaries o'his'n nayburhood ackshly extendt. T' lawy'r wuz gerryman'eryun' luv. But Jesus filibustert wiff a parabull about t'Samaritun, a dark-skinnt immigrant wiff a forn ackcent. Thishere neighber par excellance explodt luv’s berders wiff earl, wine, a donkey an' a cuple o'denarii. Thar goes t'nayburhood. T' Samaritun wuz movt by t'pow'r o'mercy. Unlack t'entitlt an' interrogatyun' lawy'r cleeun'yun' ta his'n inheritance, t'Samaritun livt wiff a sense o'obligashun at resistid qualifiers.
I’ll be honest. Wen gawd-talk starts dabbleeun' n' dooty, my heert starts wavin a theological rt flag. I am a codependent n' recovery. I larnt earlee an' ofte at I must earn luv through a full-court press o'obligashun ta folk an' tasks. I sed “yep” ov'r an' ov'r an' ov'r an' ov'r agin becawz I bleevd thishere wuz t'route ta real luv an' acceptance. Howev'r, thishere counterfeit form o'obligashun suckt my soul dry. It strippt me o'freedum. It still duz.
An obligashun bilt un a fake luv at refuses ta rock t'boat is t'opposit o't' permission-givin luv grenades at Jesus lobbt t'masses. Fake luv hoodwinks me into bleevin at I cannot, I must nairy, I should nev'r ev'r ast fer whut I net. Fake luv is nice an' agreeebull no matt'r whut. My coaches an' bosses, abusers an' addicts, delightid n' thishere harsh displine o'dooty. And the along kum my evangelical pasters. I rememb'r wen, n' earlee adulthood, a manter employt by Campus Crusade fer Christ passyunatelee quotid Philemon 6 ta me:
“I pray at t'sharyun' o'yer faith may becum effectif' wen y'all perceif' all t'good at we may do fer Christ.”
Yep, Tommy, it is vital at y'all share yer faith wiff nonbelievers — nairy onlee so at thay git savt frum t'fars o'hell, but also so at y'all mite come ta a cleer'r an' deep'r unnerstandin o't' riches o'Christ.
Indet, t'Apostle Paul wuz quotid ta me ad nauseum. Paul, at autheritariun fer t'Gospel, who remunt celibate fer Christ (1 Cer. 7:8) an' wuz giftid wiff a thern n' his'n flesh ta keep 'im frum bein too elatid (2 Cer. 12:7)! Paul possesst t'key ta abundant life, ritin o'burde upon burde stackt un his'n shoulters us he wershipt unceesinglee at t'altar o'a spiritual skwat rack:
“I have made myself a slave ta all, so at I mite win mer o'um” (1 Cer. 9:19b).
Paul wuz a'winnin, I wuz assurt, becawz he wuz shacklt by a sense o'dooty, sacrificyun' fer t'needs an' expectatyuns o'everyone else! Like Paul, I luved a'winnin too. I took t'sperts page us seriouslee us my evangelical dailee quiet time n' t'Wurd. I revert athletes who could do all thangs through steroids-Christ who gave 'um strangth. So I rippt thishere page out o'Paul’s playbook an' memerizt it. Thishere mantra wuz like crack cocune fer a codependent like me. But lo an' beehold, my performunts fer un “audyince o'one” wuz leevin out t'furst postulate o'Paul’s tranen program:
“Fer tho I am a'loose wiff respeck ta all . . .” (1 Cer. 9:19a).
Freedum! Authantic spiritualitee cummences an' ends here. T' liberatyun' Gawd o'Jesus an' t'real Paul yeerns fer lovers, nairy victims an' martyrs. We always have a choice. No one is holdin a gun ta air heerts. Jesus shart universal humun truth wen he proclaimt: No one takes my life frum me, but I lay it down o'my own accerd (John 10:18a). Thishere, I’ve come ta bleev, is t'startin block o'whut it meens ta be spiritual-but-nairy-religiyus.
We’ve ruthlesslee rejectid relijun an' its long-an'-still-growin rap sheet. Relijun hus, fer millennia, bee ust by professyunal religyunists ta shoult'r folk into a'followin. No matt'r t'cost.
Authantic obligashun, rootid n' t'Latin obligatio, meens bein bound by un oath. Jesus extendt t'boundaries o't' oath. He did nairy focus un t'fambly. Wen he tole t'disciples ta let t'lil youngns come ta 'im, t'lil youngns wuz uther folk’s youngns. Jesus wuz a kinnovater an' a clanarchist. He experimantid wiff un alternatif' communitee o'folk bound by un oath ta Gawd’s will — n' ever era, inevitablee differnt thun t'will o'empires an' institutyuns.
Howev'r, Jesus bestowt upon his'n followers t'autheritee ta discern togeth'r nairy onlee whut thay wuz bound by, but also whut thay wuz releest frum (Matt. 16:19; 18:18). It liberatid 'um frum t'construnts o'convantyunal wisdom. Thar onlee litmus test wuz luv, which deman't at thay block t'usual suspects frum assertyun' thar will upon groupthink. Luv trumps powerfil vestid interests, deep feers, unresolvt hurts, fambly expectatyuns, pe'r preshure, ekunomic oppertuntee an' soshul ideology.
Detroit communitee organiz'r Monica Lewis-Patrick calls thishere t'ideology o't' belovt communitee. It’s simple. “If'n my bruther’s nairy a'doin alriite,” she lamantid ta a delegashun a\'visitin' frum Venezuela back n' 2016, “the I’m nairy a'doin alriite.” T' Lakota say Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ. All air relatid. Dr. Martin Luth'r Kyun', Jr. callt it “t' interrelatid structure o'reelitee” an' “t' web o'mutualitee.” Breé Brown (bless hern holee name!) writes at authantic spiritualitee springs frum t'fack at we air “inaxtricablee connectid” ta one anoth'r by a pow'r greet'r thun all o'us combint. Thar air so minny a ways ta say it an' slice it. T' stery o't' Samaritun subversivelee proclaims t'good noose: we have alreddy inherted eternal life. Becawz we air alreddy (an' always) bound by luv. Nawh, we air simplee callt ta lif' luv out.
Tom Airey is t'co-editer o' radicaltiscipleship.net, whar thishere post furst appeert. He an' his'n biddy, Lindsay, lif' n' Detroit, whar thay air servin wiff St. Pet'r’s Episcopal Church an' t'Jeenie Wylie Christchun Communitee.


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