I’ve noticed an unsettling fact about myself: when I need to justify a difficult decision about someone, whether in regard to employment, partnering, friendship, or something else, I usually start looking for character flaws in areas irrelevant to the decision. If I let myself, I turn confrontation into condemnation, to distance and justify myself for any pain that my decision might cause them.
It’s terrible, isn’t it?
Jesus did the opposite the night he was arrested. You can watch the scene from The Book of Matthew here.
He’s sitting at a table with his men; Judas Iscariot is sitting next to him. At one point in the meal Jesus says,
“I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me… The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.”
In the film, Jesus whispers the last part of that thought to Judas while both of their hands are in the bowl together.
After a fearful pause, Judas carries on with his charade by asking,
“Surely not I, Rabbi?”
And this is the key moment. Turning, visibly pained by the question, Jesus hugs Judas tightly. While together, Jesus, once again, whispers his message to Judas,
“Yes, it is you.”
He keeps hugging him.
Conflict is the best opportunity for experiencing intimacy, because in conflict all of our weak ties, our affinities and our attractions, get thrown out, and the only tie that remains is our unbreakable connection to each other as people loved by God. Intimacy in conflict is the only intimacy that consists entirely of more than the weak ties. It is the most honest intimacy.
The problem is when I see conflict as a threat, when I condemn and distance myself instead of engaging in that raw kind of intimacy that hugs while saying “Yes, it is you”, I simultaneously, and unnecessarily, damage the person I’m talking to and prevent myself from experiencing that most honest of all intimacies.
And Christianity cannot consist in less than the most honest of intimacies.
The great thing about the beautiful news is that freeing you from the fear of death is just the beginning. If belief frees you from the fear of death, it also makes life worth living.