The Unreasonable Work of Liberation
"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin"—for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
June 4, 2021, Words By: Rev. Sarah Wiles, Image By: Blakely Dadson
Jesus caused a stir. Everywhere he went. As the crowds grew, the reasonable people grew concerned: “Everyone’s for healing and liberation and inclusion, but there’s a right way to go about it. Be reasonable.” Jesus is entirely unreasonable in his work of liberation.
He must be possessed, they say. Because God’s logic looks like insanity to those of us who’ve become accustomed to the world’s logic. All this disruption, this chaos, must be demonic, they say.
Isn’t it interesting that the reasonable people saw God’s goodness at work, and because it was so disorderly, decided it must be demonic?
This is what Jesus calls insulting the Holy Spirit—seeing God’s goodness and calling it evil. When we are so tied to our order, our judgments, that we stop seeing God’s goodness, well, then we’ve ended up bolting the only door through which forgiveness can flow.
Because this is what the Holy Spirit does. Whenever our rules or “order” threatens or denigrates the beauty of a child of God, the Spirit blows through and disrupts, disorders our order.
I get it. Really.
I am what some would call a progressive Christian. I have an order that I have come to expect. For example, when the Spirit shows up in conservative clothes, I am tempted to dismiss it or worse. I can only imagine how many doors I’ve closed to protect my sense of order. What terrifies me is having the views I’m so attached to disrupted—even if that disruption would bring life.
I want to share with you a door that I trust the Holy Spirit is opening. It may seem holy to you, or it may seem unholy. That very discomfort and disorder is the whole point of Jesus’ teaching this week.
My colleague Emily, a former member of the Tacoma Preaching Peace table, shared this story with us.
Kai is 6. She and her family were featured on HBO’s series TransYouth. Kai was born a boy, and from a very early age talked about being a girl. Kai’s mother did everything she could to dissuade Kai. Kimberly was a Christian, and her church led her to believe that her child was an abomination, and needed to be fixed through praying, fasting, and conversion therapy. Nothing worked. Kai continued to insist: she was who she was.
The suicide rate for trans youth is 40 percent. That number drops dramatically when trans children are supported by their community. When we call a child of God an abomination, in ways either overt or subtle, they hear. When we let our order obscure the presence of God, it has lasting consequences. Kimberly says that Kai used to pray and ask the Lord to let go home and live with Jesus—before she was six years old.
Kimberly’s heart broke, and she changed, as she says, “kicking and screaming.” She stopped trying to change Kai. The Spirit blew through, and she saw clearly. Kai was a beloved child of God, just as she was.
Most of us come to Jesus because we’re seeking peace. That’s not a bad impulse. Jesus leads to peace, but the way there often feels really disorderly. Letting the Holy Spirit blow through our lives can be tremendously disruptive, but it always, always, always brings life.
Dwelling Among Us
Where is the Spirit leading the way to a holy disruption in your own life? How might what seems like chaos lead to liberation for the most vulnerable in your context and for your most vulnerable self?