“Yes, And”

I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.
Zechariah 11:12-13 (NIV)

Reading scholarly commentary on today’s chapter, one is confronted with two contrasting interpretations of Zechariah’s prophecy. One sees the text as a conclusion of the previous chapter and a judgement on the neighboring nations who pose an obstacle to the reestablishment of Jerusalem. Others see it as prescient judgement on the rejection of God’s Messiah Shepherd.

What struck me as I read the presentation of contrasting interpretations is that I felt as though I must make up my mind as to which one is right; Which I agreed with and which I would reject. I have been programmed by my culture and tradition to approach interpretation in a dualistic, either-or manner. When I was younger my teachers regularly presented various arguments on different interpretations of a text then argued passionately for the interpretation that the teacher was convinced was the right one. Over time I felt the subtle but pervasive expectation to align myself to groups with whom I agreed on all the right interpretations.

I felt the expectation in the arena of institutional Christianity in which I was to align loyally with the particular denomination with whom I was convinced was right (and of course all other denominations were wrong and not to be trusted). Once aligned with a denomination I found myself pressured to associate with sub-groups of thought within the denomination on hot-button issues of doctrine or scriptural interpretation; Camps who would separate at denominational meetings like the parting of the Red Sea.

This was also true of politics, especially true here in the States where everything is divided into primarily two camps at ever and increasingly estranged viewpoints moving further and further apart.

This is also true socially where one social group separates themselves from another social groups and holds the other at an arm’s length of ignorant suspicion: Blacks and whites, academics and business, science and religion, jocks and artists, preppies and burn-outs, nerds and popular kids.

Along this life journey I have found myself consistently moving toward the gray spaces between the separate camps of dualistic thought, which sometimes raises suspicions of both. I have served and worshipped among many different denominations. I have found myself socializing in starkly contrasting social groups. I find myself increasingly rejecting the polarizing extremes of both of my country’s red and blue camps.

This morning I find myself mulling over the dualistic interpretations of Zechariah’s prophecy and whispering to myself, “yes, and.” So it is with the prophetic which can be layered with meaning and revealed by a God who is consistently beyond confinement of human thought or understanding. Even Jesus, whom I believe was the incarnate Immanuel (“God with us”) was consistently found at the tension between dualistic extremes. So much so, in fact, that those of Jesus’ own religion considered Him so threatening to their entrenched, right religious interpretations that they were willing to pay to get rid of Him.

And so they paid one of Jesus’ own followers thirty pieces of silver. When Judas felt the shamed of what he had done to Jesus he threw the silver back at the priests who used the money to buy a Potter’s field to be used to bury poor dead blokes who couldn’t afford a grave.

That’s one prophecy that scholars in either interpretive camp of today’s chapter can agree is eerily present in the text that Zac wrote nearly 500 years before the events occurred.

 

One thought on ““Yes, And””

  1. Nice post. You know I’ve struggled with this same odd-man-out feeling when you are conservative in some things, liberal in others. It just feels like such a cop-out when people force us to choose one position or another to be part of their group-I just want to turn and say-“did you ever ask yourself who told you it had to be this way? It’s not in the bible, maybe you’re just a victim of someone else’s marketing?”.

    Just several weeks ago we had to have our Sunday School class in the foyer instead of in the corner of the auditorium. I was leading the class and said “You know there are some people that when you say Evangelical Christian they immediately assume you must be a white republican gun owner who voted for Trump”. I was trying to get the group to think outside of labels. Later on that morning I was approached by an person who had heard me and had a “friendly” discussion about how he felt that because of the pro-life issue the Republican party was the closest to God’s view. I got the definite feeling I was being corrected and interviewed for signs of straying from the orthodoxy. And like you said-it’s not just politics, it’s doctrine, class and socio-economic status; groups and sub-groups seeking to put every one of us in the right slot, in the defined color code, in the absolute correct bin, so no one has to endure any variance in thought trying to figure things out.

    I think back to Martin Luther asking the church to show it to him in the scripture and he would be glad to change. That inherently essential idea that his Spirit Led, bible educated conscience ruled him and not the traditions of men, that’s still as important now as it was in the reformation.

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