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Carry that weight

Charles Qualls

Do you ever catch yourself engaging in “magical thinking”? Magical thinking might be best understood as a need to believe that one’s hopes and desires can have an effect on how the world turns.

On the one hand, you could choose to believe that some good outcome is just going to happen because you want it to. So, you proceed on that optimistic basis, just because. On the other hand, these types of beliefs can also cause a person to experience an irrational fear of performing certain acts or having certain thoughts because they assume that if they do, terrible things might happen.

Just believing there will soon be world peace, without doing anything at all to bring it about, is magical thinking. Me believing each and every year during spring training that this will be the year my Atlanta Braves will hoist a World Series trophy is magical thinking. But I do it anyway, despite obvious weaknesses on the roster.

Don’t you think it’s easy for Christianity to lapse into magical thinking? Given our druthers, don’t you think it’s easier to believe in a Jesus who was always in a wonderful mood? A Jesus who never had anything bad happen to Him? A patient Lord who only spoke lovingly to everyone no matter what they did to Him or what they asked Him? But that’s not an accurate description of what we see depicted in the Gospels.

In 2006, when Daniel Craig began as the new Bond, no one wanted a blonde Bond of average height, after dark-headed and tall men had played the role so far. What was even more shocking was when we saw from the get-go that now this Bond was finally going to get his clothes messed up. He was going to show deep emotion, and would even get wounded on a regular basis.

It’s not what people wanted at first. They liked their movie star to always save the day, to be shot at but never hit, to win the fight with no muss and no fuss. It took some fans a while to get past their magical thinking.

Given our druthers, don’t you think it’s easier to believe that faith in God through Christ ought to mean that we are somehow protected in this life from harm and strife? To believe that whatever we could wish in our hearts surely must have been placed there by God, so therefore our thoughts couldn’t be wrong or have bad and selfish intentions. Don’t we prefer to assume that everyone who also believes in God through Christ sees everything — culture, church, politics, all of it — just like we do?

But that’s nowhere close to the way life is in the real world. The picture we find in Isaiah 53:4-12 is much more real.

Something new was happening as this part of Isaiah began. But most believers of his time, and for centuries to follow, rejected Isaiah’s notion. Because what he described didn’t fit their magical thinking. He forecast a suffering servant.

Somehow, it just might be that faith in God through Jesus Christ could be a little easier. It could be that life itself could seem a little easier if we shed the magical thinking that has been woven into Christianity. Instead, we might hear and believe in Isaiah’s description of the suffering servant. One who gets rejected for who He is. Whose disciples got persecuted by association and who not everyone thinks as highly of as we do. One who eventually suffered by paying the highest price.

Allow Jesus to carry that weight you’ve been carrying. Or at least share some of it with Him. That may be about as good as many of we humans are willing to do. It’s what He came for. But if we won’t let Him get His hair messed up, if we won’t let Him take the Lamb off of His lap, if we won’t let Him do anything but look and sound perfect — it’s hard for him to be the Savior and Sustainer that we need.