By Nichola Torbett
*This is part of a series of pieces from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.
Then someone from the part of occupied Turtle Island known as the Midwest came to him and said, “Teacher, I want to follow you. I want to access that eternal life I have heard about–that rich, juicy, for-real life, and most of the time I feel like I’m walking around with a film of plastic between me and the world. My therapist says maybe it’s dissociation from when I was a kid….
He interrupted her, saying “You already know that all you have to do is follow the commandments laid out in scripture and especially in the accounts of my life and teaching. You know, that stuff I said about loving your neighbor as yourself? Then you will have as much of that life as you can handle and then some.”
“Sir, I have done all that,” she responds, struggling to hide her indignation. “I have been nice to everyone I’ve ever met, taking care never to hurt anyone’s feelings or even make them feel uncomfortable. I’m so good at it that I don’t even have to think about it. I can bend myself into a pretzel so quickly it’s almost impossible for anyone to catch me doing it. I am polite and work hard to draw people out in conversation. Also, I reply to every text message as soon as I get it!”
Then he looked at her and saw right through her, and he loved who she really was.
“If you wish to be whole, trade in all your pretenses that are making you resentful, all those ideas about niceness that grease the social wheels for you and allow you to get through life without having to feel very much, but that actually have nothing to do with love, and in exchange, you will get your life.”
And quietly he added, “…along with persecutions.”
“It will be hard for a nice person to enter the Kingdom of God. Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the needle’s eye than it is for a person socialized to be a nice white woman to enter the Kingdom of God.”
She gasped, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
“Truly I tell you, all those who have relinquished the false trappings of whiteness and recognized that there is no hope, ever, of being a better person than anyone else, all those who have joined their time, their formerly hoarded wealth, and their hearts with those who could never play along–the “angry Black people” and uncompromising Indigenous people and unapologetic immigrants and flaming queer and trans and non binary people–all of these will receive one hundredfold the relationships and shared resources they lost when they stopped playing by the white rules. They will give away their stolen inheritance and inherit eternal life.”
Nichola Torbett is a spiritual seeker, recovering addict, gospel preacher, nonviolent direct action trainer, and regular contributor to the podcast The Word Is Resistance, available on SoundCloud. She walks dogs for a living and engages in the liberation struggle to stay alive.