It is only by faith that one achieves any resemblance to Abraham, not by murder. If one makes love into a fleeting mood, a sensual feeling in a person, then only one lays snares for the weak by talking about the achievements of love. Everyone to be sure, has had momentary feelings, but if everyone therefore would do the dreadful thing that love has sanctified as an immortal achievement, then everything is lost, both the achievement and the one led astray. – Soren Kierkegaard
Faith is Dreadful uncertainty, the infinite torment, the challenge at the end of reason. The absurdity that will either form you into an unmovable pillar, or leave you shattered at the edge of reason.
With dread do we look on extraordinary feats of achievement and cower from them, afraid of the infinitesimal possibility of that which we are capable of. We tremble in the sight of the truly divine, for we are insubstantial in its light. We are but ghosts in its presence, and when humans embody the divine, they fill us with fear, and trembling. We cannot but stand in the presence of the holy, amazed and filled with dread at the prospect of being less than.
We look at Abraham, and must rightly be discomforted. We cannot point to him and say “Lo, what great faith,” without becoming restless at the reality of this faith. This faith borders on insanity. This faith borders on murder, and we cannot paint icons of it without being rightly reminded that faith consumes the whole of life.
We cannot think lightly nor tread lightly on the achievements that fill us with this dread for to do so is to deny their very existence through subterfuge.
To deny the reality of a sacrifice such as Abraham’s is to reduce it, to pass off his faith as ordinary is to deny any faith at all. It reduces those moments of visionary insight that we have into something beyond ourselves and makes them flat and insubstantial. No, to talk of the achivements of faith we must ourselves lose sleep, we must ourselves be restless.
I must myself draw myself out of my drunken stupor and breathe reality into my veins.
Abraham stands alone.
Once I know this and see it, it is then in my restlessness over the mystery of Abraham that I can begin to know this faith. Without the struggle of incomprehension, this faith is a joke. To take this God seriously, we can’t just pick and choose, we turn to Christ, and He seems to affirm the Abraham narrative. Forgive my eisegesis but i think it fits. “Anyone who does not hate mother, brother, father, sister, son or daughter is not worthy of me.”
Faith demands real work, or else it is not faith at all. Faith demands real restlessness, loss of sleep, anguish, perturbed thought and deep meditation. Without these things, it is questionable whether I have rightly begun to understand the gospel and the radical call it presents.
Blessed are those who mourn, who reject what the world calls happiness and instead grieve at the carousing and festivals. They will be comforted. The prophet weeps while the people rejoice.
Faith demands the dreadful thing, the one thing which no one ever desires for themselves, death. The loss of myself is the only thing which I have sought to avoid at all costs, but is also the very thing I must do if I will begin to follow this Jesus rightly.
A rich man once came to Jesus and asked how to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and follow, to give those things which he thought were Himself, and recognize he had never even begun the path at all. Be rightly grieved at Haiti, but remember how the story ends, all this shall have been set right and justified in the end. I do not know what measures besides omnipotent love can ever justify the suffering of a child, but apparently that justification has been made in the cross.
We are right to laugh when the powers rear their ugly heads, when they abuse the gospel, crucify us and kill our bodies, destroy our children and take captive all that which we hold dear. We are right to mock them, because it is the twilight of the idols, and dawn is rapidly approaching.
We will seem insane when we look not to the presidency or the economic system or health care for our solutions, but we laugh with a burning ease, because we know how the story ends. Abraham stands alone, but he stands alone because He stands with us, those who have gone to meet Him, outside the camp.
Faith is restless, it is discomfort, but in this discomfort is the patience to remember how the story ends, and thus peace.