I sat in the water Sunday afternoon with a great group of guys. It was somewhat crowded, but the vibe in the water was just great. People were laughing, smiling, and you couldn’t even begin to paddle into a wave without the whole crowd hooting (that’s something we do in surfing when a surfer is about to get a good ride, or just did). The water was cold, the waves were hot, and the people were cool. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this kind of community, support, ease, organic connection with this school of fellow piranhas. It was a very pleasurable, and meaningful afternoon for this old salt.
One scripture that never ceases to amaze me, as well as intimidate me, provoke me, and empower me is Romans 9:3, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel…”
In surfing we get “cut off” when another surfer drops in on us as we begin to take the wave; they take off in front of us which basically shuts us down, and pisses us off to the max. We call it getting “snaked,” “stuffed,” basically…screwed. It almost feels like getting your Christmas gift stolen right after you just got your first look at it. In the old days when I was first learning that would result in a swift ankle crack from the surfer you dropped in on (he would sling his board around and not-so-lightly whack you on the ankles). Or, as was my M.O., I would launch my entire, very heavy board, straight at the offending party’s backside in hopes that my cruise missile would dismantle the enemy’s offensive gesture. Not very Christian of me I know, but war is hell they say, and in a crowded wave spot, tensions can run high.
Paul comes along and says he would take not being a Christian, being cut off from Christ, for the sake of those he loved…his people, if they would only come to faith. It’s a pitiful comparison, but to think that I would love my fellow surfers enough to allow myself to be cut off on every single wave is just plain…extravagant. Yet, Paul, in my understanding says he would allow himself to go to hell if it would cause his brothers, his fellow Jews, to come to know Christ. I don’t have enough love to simply let my community (surfers) stuff me for a wave or two, how could I ever have such a love that I would be willing to be eternally cut off, separated from God for their sakes?
Of course the Good News is, I don’t have to. Jesus has already done that. He was crucified for our transgressions; for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…”Father, why have you forsaken me?”
But it causes me to think now…every time I paddle into a wave and look at my “brother” down the line. How about you?