Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bandage babies

Ever noticed that strange addiction children have to adhesive ban-dages? What is it about those silly things that deceive us so?

If even once we have a legitimate “ouchy” that demands one of these, it’s as if some plasticized dementia takes root in us. Children will soon be asking for bandages to cover invisible wounds, to heal scrapes and scratches that are figments of their imagination. They become bandage babies and parents become bandage spoilsports, saying, “You don’t need one; there’s nothing there!” Still, the kid screams, “Yes, there is! I need one!”

A tug-of-war erupts where even the fail-proof solution of “kissing it better” is utterly rejected. Finally, in the interests of peace and the future of the human race itself, we find the parents digging into the medicine cabinet for a bandage on yet one more non-problem in order to maintain their own sanity.

One begins to wonder if we ever outgrow this:

• Sexual promiscuity, venereal diseases and teenage pregnancy riddle societies. The solution: Use a pill or a condom, or abort the fetus. Problem solved. Come on!

• Need more stuff? The solution: Use credit to pay off that super-duper-never-to-fail-fruit-scented-automatic-voice-activated-toilet-paper dispenser that was so amazing when seen on TV. Swipe it, accumulate stuff with debt, make minimum payments and my incessant need will be satisfied. Come on!

• Church trouble? The solution: Get rid of—or ignore—the leader or others you don’t agree with. Run to something fresh, or more to your liking, that will make you feel better about your unholy religious addiction and the problem is solved. Come on!

• Relationship trouble? Solution: Buy the book that will solve your partner’s problem and fix the marriage in six easy steps. Or better yet, avoid marriage altogether. Cohabitate and avoid at all lengths having to say “I do” to cover your fanny when you know you won’t. Problem easily solved. Come on!

On and on we go avoiding our depths one camouflaging padded sticker at a time. This is the story in our culture, in our neighbourhoods and in our churches.

Don’t you see? We love to cover things up and then conclude the work is done. But to celebrate this conclusion is to be deceived into a false security and identity. The result of our unwillingness to go to root issues means not just that real problems are ignored, but are, in fact, given increased power to control. Even further, we end up missing what we are actually desperately seeking: Joy. We become joyless, superficial and increasingly unable to see real issues.

To be a people of the cross is to avoid this bandage addiction, and enter a new individual and corporate reality. People of the cross move beyond bandages to open woundedness, confession, repentance and embrace. We cry out for grace and mercy. We seek not self-justification, but Christ-justification. After all, the cross is no bandage, but the freeing revelation that our healing is rooted in one great wound.