inconceivable

Do you remember how the geeky villain named Vizzini in The Princess Bride kept saying everything was inconceivable?

When Inigo spotted another boat catching up with them in the open sea, Vizzini said, “Inconceivable!”

When Westley was catching them as he climbed the rope on the Cliffs of Despair, Vizzini said, “Inconceivable!”

After they cut the rope and Westley continued climbing the cliffs, Vizzini said, “Inconceivable!”

Vizzini kept saying, “Inconceivable,” every other sentence, and every time he said it, the thing he thought was inconceivable happened anyway.

At one point, Inigo said to Vizzini, in that thick Spanish accent, “You keep saying that.  I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

I love that line.

Whenever I think of how the Christian life that I live is not really the way a Christian life should be lived, I think of that line.

I’m not sure the word “Christian” means what we think it means.

Today, I’m thinking we live in denial of genuine Christianity most of the time.  We keep using these Christian terms to describe stuff that barely, if at all, resembles what should be defined as genuine Christianity.

I’m not really intending to be terribly critical here.  It’s just that I’ve been thinking of the aspects of Christianity which seem to be much deeper and more spiritual, even more radical, than anything my life resembles.  I wonder if we, or maybe just I, have boiled the biblical Christianity of radical communion with Christ down to a few practical, comprehensive bullet points.

I think that we (or maybe just me) are so concerned about maintaining control in our lives and so afraid of just about everything, that we’ve gradually eliminated the life, the mysterious, the miraculous, the deep spiritual intimacy and passion, from our faith.

Is Christianity the equivalent of brushing my teeth, struggling to eat right, forcing myself to get some exercise, saying a prayer before a meal, maintaining my vehicles, demonstrating good moral values, being prudent with my finances, voting for the right candidate, and hanging on to church-initiated social activities and dead-end bible-study groups?

Inconceivable!

Can you imagine a Christianity that adequately reflects the true calling of an intimate walk with Christ?

I can imagine it.  It is conceivable.  I’m just having a hard time living it.  You?

I’m almost sorry to bring it up, actually.  I’m too exhausted from trying to hold my life together to even debate the point of what the word “Christian” means.  If we could just skip all of that, and cut to the part about communing with Jesus and knowing him and being compelled by his love, I’d like that.

Today, I’m just hungry for his flesh, and thirsty for his blood; well . . . that is . . . unless that’s too radical.

4 thoughts on “inconceivable”

  1. A fitting, coincidental comment on this topic from John Eldredge arrived in my inbox this morning:

    We Have No Idea Who We Really Are
    04/18/2008

    ——————————————————————————–

    “We have no idea who we really are. Whatever glory was bestowed, whatever glory is being restored, we thought this whole Christian thing was about . . . something else. Trying not to sin. Going to church. Being nice. Jesus says it is about healing your heart, setting it free, restoring your glory. A religious fog has tried to veil all that, put us under some sort of spell or amnesia, to keep us from coming alive. As Blaise Pascal said, “It is a monstrous thing . . . an incomprehensible enchantment, and a supernatural slumber.” And, Paul said, it is time to take that veil away.

    When anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:16–18)

    A veil removed, bringing freedom, transformation, glory. Do you see it? I am not making this up—though I have been accused of making the gospel better than it is. The charge is laughable. Could anyone be more generous than God? Could any of us come up with a story that beats the one God has come up with?

    (Waking the Dead , 80–81)

  2. Were Jesus’ disciples able to understand figurative meaning? If they were anything like my students, then no. So when Jesus said this is my body and this is my blood, they’re thinkin, “What the flip? Who is this guy? Up to this point he’s always recommended eating fish and bread and veggies and stuff. Can’t we just like have a salad?”

    …Good word on the “thickness” of baptism. With all this wack Christianity stuff, I guess we make the same mistake my students make with almost every piece of literature we read. They fail to recognize the figurative meaning, or worse yet, they convert the figurative into literal. So religion in general is like my less-than-bright students: it takes symbols and makes them literal–it’s the water that actually saves; therefore, immersion or sprinkling are of monumental importance! What if you don’t quite get it right!? I know the answer in the prevailing religion around these parts: you go to hell.

    But it’s weird. I think all humans at least subconsciously understand all kinds of symbols. Take the Sword of Gondor, for example. That’s a heck of a lot more than a sword. That is Gondor itself reforged. It is the hope and future of men. It is the embodiment of authority. (I just watched Return of the King last night in the school auditorium–the owners bought a cinema-sized screen and tricked-out sound system, but most of the science and humanities teachers don’t have textbooks for their students–classic…) Anyway, so what’s the deal? Is it that we’re all just morons? Or is it that it’s easier to stay at surface level. Yep, that’s it. My students suck at seeing figurative meaning because they don’t want to exercise their higher level thinking skills. They also care too much about their own lives to put themselves in a book and truly empathize with a character…

    It’s when we neglect the figurative that everything in Christianity gets really weird. But still, why do all the symbols of Christianity seem so flippin” esoteric and require all kinds of explanation? They shouldn’t, right? They’re intrinsic enough to the human spirit, are they not? You tell me…

  3. Oh yeah, I wanted to give you props on the comment you left on our Dubai post. God saying, “Oh, how cute.” I love it! It’s perfect! I really admire your honesty as a father, too. You’d like to think absolutely everything your kids do is worthy of merit. But sometimes it’s just not that good–a reflection of an inferior mind. Ha! How sad! Nothing against the kid, of course. They’re still adorable 🙂

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