The Other Side

The other side is so far away.  It doesn’t really matter what we’re talking about; crossing from one side to the other is brutal.  Crossing the ocean may as well have meant flying to the moon until 531 years ago.  Crossing the Continental Divide felt virtually impossible until Lewis and Clark showed early America the way.  Even crossing the Chattahoochee River in some places would put your life at risk (by drowning or bacteria!). Crossing the political aisle is a thing of the past.  Crossing the theological spectrum is nearly so.  Crossing from one side to the other means charting new paths, having the courage to try, persevering through the innumerable obstacles along the way and the conviction of why it matters that the journey continues.  In short, it’s hard work.

This is exactly what we see in Jesus.  There is a collection of stories about Jesus that Mark includes in his Gospel that paint such a powerful picture for us.  They reveal Jesus’s courage, conviction and commitment to moving from one side to the other and, when taken together, challenge the way we engage our families, workplaces, neighborhoods, online communities and cultural reality.  

We find in these stories, above all else, two powerful testimonies about His mission.  The most obvious is this: we are wanted.  This sentiment is thrown around both Christian and cultural circles, but Jesus’s actions leave no room for ambiguity on this account and we must hear His heart.  The second, existing more as subtext, is no less powerful if not quite as warm and cuddly.  These stories contain a profound critique, but not a critique of the bad guys.  Rather, when we listen closely, we hear a critique of those who ought to know better, those who know the rules and those who claim to know God.  When Jesus crosses from one side to the other, it is both invitation into His story AND a corrective to the (un)natural drift toward exclusivity and exceptionalism.

I can’t wait to dive in, especially with those of us who are wondering whether Jesus matters or whether there is still a role for the church in this crazy world.