Leaving Up To Their Name

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A poster stands inside the Leave.EU campaign headquarters, a party campaigning against Britain’s membership of the European Union, in London, U.K., on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Britain’s economy could be thrown off track by the planned referendum on European Union membership, according to the Confederation for British Industry. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 

In many cultures, including Jewish, a person’s name influences their character. Jacob was the grasper as his name suggested. And both Joshua, and later Jesus, held firm to the meaning of their name: “YAHWEH is salvation”. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that the leadership of the Leave Campaign have all, well, left. First Farage, then Boris, then Gove, and now Leadsom. Maybe the Daily Mail has recently published an article on how the limelight gives you cancer. Maybe the underdog is allowed to b-s, and poetic license looks better on billboards and buses than it does inside Cabinet. Regardless, the control we were supposed to be ‘taking back’ has never felt so out of reach as when an economic crisis looks nigh and the premiership is handed over to someone not even elected by their own party let alone the nation as a whole. I thought it was meant to be the E.U that was undemocratic…

Cynicism aside, it is a reminder of why the tenacity of biblical relationships is actually a good thing, even when treating people and promises like any other disposable product is culturally accepted (Hollywood seems to reason that adultery is okay if the protagonist does it because y’know, feelings, but totally out of order if the protagonist’s partner does it). At innumerable points in the biblical story, human logic would have determined that God should have cut his losses and given up on trying to redeem humanity. From the get-go, distrust, pride, selfishness, cruelty, and exploitation abound. Heaven-sized reserves of patience must be necessary to cope with our myopic vision.

Jesus could have ousted some of his disciples when they seemed proud and snooty, or when they tried to redirect Jesus’ path away from the cross. Jesus himself could, in the face of mocking cynicism, proved that his humility was chosen from the throne of heaven rather than simple weakness.

Paul could have cut all ties with the Corinthian church when it permitted incest, or the Galatian and Ephesian churches when false teachings took hold there.

If things aren’t going your way, quit. If it didn’t turn out as you expected, call it a day. Don’t waste your precious time on people and projects that don’t make you happy. On one level, that sounds delightful (and I certainly do agree that walking away is at times the best way of showing love). As a perfectionist, setting fire to the mess sounds far more preferable to learning to live with and even love it. But then, what we admire and find inspiring in other people’s stories is not the cut-and-run, but the relationships that endure through thick and thin. The leaders of the Leave campaign is the subject of so much scorn, because without the ability to rewrite reality, we need the commitment of our co-authors. Perhaps, if Eve was Adam’s ‘ezer’ (helper/ strength), and it was not good for man to be alone, then part of that “not good” was the feeling of helplessness, especially in times when God feels distant.

Take Ruth, for example, a book that does not even mention God. It is through her wholehearted commitment to Naomi that their grief and poverty are redeemed.

Ruth 1:16-17

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

The tenacity of grace can give us hope.

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