Piously Annoyed

August 7, 2014

Matt Fitzgerald

"The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead."Acts 4:1-2 

I know the feeling. Years ago I walked through Chicago's Field Museum with a childhood friend. When we reached the reconstructed Tyrannosaurus Rex he said, "They should have a model of Adam and Eve standing next to it."

I blanched. He saw it. "What, you don't believe the Bible?" I stung him with this zinger: "I take the Bible too seriously to read it literally." He stung right back. "What about the resurrection? Do you believe that?"

How annoying. The only thing I believed for sure was that I should have kept my mouth shut the moment Adam, Eve and dinosaurs showed up in the same sentence.

"Well, do you?" I said nothing. Torn between faith and modernity I had nothing to say.

Not that progressive Christians can't speak while straddling the fence between the empty tomb and the modern world. "I think that the Apostles mistook an inner experience for an outward fact." I've indulged in such glib superiority while apologizing for Jesus.

I wish I hadn't. As Bonhoeffer says, a Christian's call is to cling to the resurrection, not explain it. Better to fume silently, annoyed at Jesus, than to try and build something as wild as faith out of apology and vacillation. It might be better to be exasperated than clever. Maybe eventually our annoyance will become bewilderment. And then perhaps our bewilderment will become awe.

In the meantime, there are worse things than irritated silence.

Prayer

Dear God, if it is in your power, make our annoyance with you pious. Amen.

About the Author
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.
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