“I never knew you. Depart from me.”
This is the violence of rejection.
It is not arbitrary when Jesus says this in Matthew 7. It comes as a result of a series of statements that imply the independence of individuals who are motivated by the pursuit of glory and honor and superiority at the expense of relationships.
And in a way Jesus is describing a type of journey toward an obscurity that has sought recognition from all the wrong places or at least the wrong reasons to the neglect of being known by God.
Yet, there is another type of obscurity, a voluntary kind that Jesus seemingly lives out and another kind that is thrust upon us as a gift or an opportuntiy to be humbled.
Both require humility, one is certainly easier and met with much less resistance. The challenge of willingly becoming obscure is in part due to the fear of being forgotten or the fear of loss or becoming lost to one’s self. We don’t volunteer our hiddenness because we are afraid someone else will surpass us. John the Baptist knew well the difficulty, but knew the greater difficulty of staying in the place of prominence when it was time to move on.
But “if you lose your life… for my sake.”
This is the echo and refrain and invitation that I am having to remind myself. Am I willing to become lost in Christ which ultimately will find me found?
Am I willing to give up the little I have accumulated even the little in which I feel adequately known to have eternal riches and an identity formed by the Father of all good things?
I have been unwilling. I have fought to establish independence and sought my own justification. I have cried out and reached out to largely be ignored and I have been unwilling to be forgotten.
So I have functioned as a ghost. Scaring, maybe even intimidating the ones who have ignored and disregarded me only to find that ghosts can’t receive healing.
Returning to the places and people that have wounded you without regard for restituion does no one any good by reappearing. This I think is also the point of the resurrection. There is no evidence that Jesus reappears to his murderers.
He shows up for the ones who actually want Him.
That, I think is an important way to live. Showing up for those who want you. By want you, I mean those willing to spend time with you in reciprocation and love not the ones who want to use you.
I think this is Peter Parker’s dilemma to a degree. Can I do more good by being unknown than known? I don’t know if it was adequately worked out in this most recent movie because he chooses to be completely unknown not as Spiderman but as Peter Parker and that seems strange. Spiderman does not become obscured, meaning people still know Spiderman exists, and he does good. But the identity of Spiderman is obscured. This carries over into Peter Parker being forgotten which I think sends the wrong message to a generation already consumed with putting forth an idealized version of their identity.
I don’t know if it is actually worth laying down who you are for a heroic masked or plastic version of ourselves. I think just about everyone is already doing that. This is part of the nuance of obscurity.
It allows us to find out who actually wants us around not for our heroics or even for our mistakes but for who wants to love us well because we exist and are capable of reciprocating genuine love and affection. We obscure the mask in an attempt to have a genuine expression of our identity and being known. We lay aside pretension in order to discover the gift of the person that is a free and true version of themselves even amidst their own wounds and ongoing healing.
In a way we have to separate ourselves from our masks, which in itself is a version of obscurity usually hiding the genuine and often messy, but somehow also allows us to give off an idealized version of what we are capable of. The mask allows us to say, look how beautiful, picturesque and rich my life and your life can be often neglecting the beauty of contentedness.
If we were content would we feel the need to boast, or waiver in indecision, or desperately try to garner a following?
In obscurity, we learn how to be content, how to be known to the ones that matter and are willing to reciprocate love and we are free enough to continue to walk when we are wounded by our enemies.