[Video message] “Success as Failure (Part 10)” by Drew Sumrall

In this video, Drew Sumrall talked about crucified identities, which Peter Rollins has also mentioned before in a video message recently, about how we lay aside our various tribal identities when we follow Christ, and become one in Christ, who is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, Republican nor Democrat, and so on. Drew’s interpretation of Jesus’ words about coming not to bring peace but a sword, and hating one’s father and mother and so on in order to follow Christ is similar to Slavoj Zizek’s interpretation as well, as he mentioned about overcoming sectarianism. I think Drew may have been learning about philosophy and postmodern theology for some time in order to share such radical and progressive messages of Christ, given that he came from a Pentecostal background, which is quite amazing.

Drew shared that acceptance and inclusion in the society is an illusion because when we talk to anyone, from the man sleeping at the bus station to the most famous pop star, they are going to tell us exactly the same thing: “I just don’t fit in.” As he said, deep down we all have hurts and pains and questions. We all feel as though we are not a part of anything. We are all broken and alone. I have been there myself, and I also feel like I am a fish out of water living in a performance-based materialistic society where I don’t fit in, regardless of my tribal identities based on my nationality or status or gender and so on.

As Drew mentioned, this is why Jesus is calling out to each of us to stop trying to be somebody and follow him and become nobody, and take up the cross and let society discard us, which is our participation in the crucifixion, which Drew called “cognitive suffering”.

I also gained a better insight from his message in this verse in Philippians about losing everything for the excellency of knowing Christ.

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:10)

I understand it as following Jesus and participating in his sufferings of being rejected and abandoned, which brings us to the third move of Paul’s dialectics, which is our reconciliation with God made manifest when we “empty ourselves of ourselves”, as Drew described.

When we don’t fit in the society, it is comforting to know that God doesn’t fit in either, so we are in good company with Jesus. Just as God has gone through the pains and sufferings of rejection, discrimination and marginalisation, God perfectly understands how we feel and what we go through too. By taking up our own cross and following Jesus, we become part of a community in which we are the light of God’s love and acceptance to ourselves and others.

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