Can I go one day without hearing about the DaVinci Code? It’s everywhere I go and where I am people are not happy about it. There are seminars, “bible studies,” Church meetings, three week classes, even books about the “evil message” of Dan Brown. I’ve heard it called everything from deceptive to dangerous even satanic. Either I am hearing about it on the radio, from Christian news and magazine articles, or just in personal conversation; either being asked my “professional” opinion as a student at a Christian University (and of course being expected to agree about how deceptive the book is) or being flat out told why Christians shouldn’t read it. I know there are a whole lot of people out there who love the book but apparently their voice is quiet because everything I hear is negative. What intrigues me the most is that though the Church hates it so much the book wouldn’t be half as popular if it were not for the frantic frenzy surrounding it.
Why on earth are we making such a big deal out of a fictional book? What’s the big deal. Shouldn’t we be optimistic about there being such great interest in Jesus? Shouldn’t we trust that truth is more powerful than a lie and light is greater than darkness (this is assuming that the book is “dark” and I am not convinced that it is)? Shouldn’t we pick our battles?
I’ve been living with a story the last week or so. It’s the place is scripture where Jesus is in the garden being arrested. Out of anger and I am sure a sense of duty Peter, one of Jesus closest disciples draws his sword and cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Isn’t he doing the right thing? I mean Jesus, who he swore to follow even to death is being arrested. Anyone who is loyal to his master would surely defend Him. But sometimes what seems to be the right thing to do, the right battle to fight just isn’t. Jesus calls to Peter “put your sword away! Live by the sword and you’ll die by the sword.” What Jesus is saying here is much more profound than we usually realize. Peter is trying to save Jesus life, of course it must be the right thing to do, but essentially Jesus tells Him that in this case his effort to preserve life is really destroying it. What Peter sees as saving life Jesus, with such great wisdom, knows will actually cause death. The ironic thing is that Jesus, though he didn’t live by the sword, still died by it, which would prove Him wrong. But again in glorious irony Jesus shows us how to truly bring life, not by the means we normally seek victory but by surrender. He surrendered Himself, and though He was killed He came to life again. Sometimes victory comes in the most unlikely and ironic ways. Only a God like Yahweh could bring this kind of victory, the most unlikely and ironic but the most complete and true.
So here we are. There is this book and to us it seems like Jesus is being attacked. So of course we draw our swords and fight back. What we may see as preserving life may really be ending it. As we draw our swords and thrust ourselves into battle in order to declare truth to the world and conceal the lies the world only sees burning books. The world sees great literature being insulted and God is saying “live by the sword and you’ll die by the sword.”