Transhumanist Advent: He touched the man's ear and healed him

Recent trends indicate that organized religion is declining in many developed western nations (source). One way to respond to trends like that is to become zealous about defending faith. This approach often has disastrous results as religious zealousness pits its own righteous desires against others (including their own). Ultimately, it divides the Body of Christ through contention. An example of this is Peter’s defense of Jesus as he was arrested. The defense of Jesus was a righteous desire. Unfortunately, his zeal that lead to contention was out of line.

"Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him." (Luke 22:48-51, NIV)

Currently, I’m saddened and ashamed of all the ears being cut off in the name of religion today. Swords are drawn on various sides as authoritative exercises of religious institutional power cuts off members who are hurting. And swords of indignation are swung at the flaws of religious institutions. We even see this play out in families where faith can become a contentious wedge rather than a healing balm.

Contrast this with Jesus’ response to Peter and Malchus as he stops Peter and heals Malchus’ ear. Can we see in this example how Christ is perhaps calling us to put away our religious and institutional weapons and instead see and heal the suffering of others? Will we stand up to destructive zealotry and say, "No more of this!" as we then seek to be healers? With so many who are hurting today, we have a much greater need for healers and peacemakers than we do for zealots. I think we all have the responsibility to find ways to put injured ears back on and begin listening to one another.

Abraham Joshua Heschel in "God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism" makes this observation:

"It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion--its message becomes meaningless."

Perhaps the challenge for religion today is for it to produce more healers than zealots, to listen rather than attack or contend, and to re-commit ourselves to better emulate the works of Jesus, the Master Healer.

-Caleb Jones

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