More Normal Than Not
We were born for such a time as this.
These days, more normal than not. Unprecedented—for us. But read history. Read the biblical texts. Political upheaval, social unrest. Nothing rare about this particular climate. New set of circumstances, maybe. But barely. This new normal is hardly new.
Listen to the stories of those gone before us.
Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sarah. Joseph and Moses. Rahab. And then this…
…since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 11, 12:1-3)
Look to Jesus, pioneer, perfecter of our faith…
My husband repeats his observation. “We can no longer trust the news.” TV, online, or any variety of “read this quick before they delete it”—there’s no way to know if any of it’s true.
So what do we do?
We do what we’ve always been doing.
We run with endurance, looking to Jesus, who for JOY endured the cross.
This news. This unrest. This confusion. “None of it matters when we live in His Kingdom.” My husband’s words, and my thoughts exactly.
None of it ever did.
We who follow Jesus. His apprentice-disciples. We follow a guy who walked through walls, post-resurrection. And in a sense, we do, too. Like water off a duck’s back, so to speak. Our priorities, our mission, haven’t changed, one bit.
The biggest hurdle is how to be united. We’re stubborn people, and we have our OPINIONS. I have mine, too.
But Jesus, it would seem, was oblivious even to this complication. Simon the Zealot, and Matthew who collected taxes. Two sides of two different coins, if you know what I mean. No problem to Jesus. Come, follow me.
We give our allegiance to the one we follow. We devote ourselves to His common mission. And we link arms with each other along the way.
Jesus lived in a social context. He pulled a coin for a tax from the mouth of a fish. And this…
Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Water off the old duck’s back.
We fix our eyes on Jesus, and we carry on, as He did.
Jesus taught us to live in His Upside-Down Kingdom. (My words, not His.) The people of his day expected something different. They expected insurrection. A political messiah. Instead they got good news for the poor and every sort of healing. They got wine from water. Bread and fish.
They got the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
This prophecy of threefold meaning. God’s chosen people. A future Messiah. You and me.
This is our mission, holy passion. To bring forth justice. Gently. Not growing faint, or losing heart.
What does following Jesus look like today? The same as it did in 2019. Or 45AD.
We bring healing and blessing and a cup of cold water—to both enemies, and friends.
We live and we die and we’re resurrected.
We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Our Pioneer, Perfecter.
We keep the faith.
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)