The Intersection is Everywhere

(April 17, 2011)

Well, hello, folks. I missed my biweekly goal, mainly because I couldn’t decide what to write about. Last time I wrote about the cross, but not long after I read new insights that seemed more challenging and biblical.* Realizing I’d have to come back singing a different tune, I wondered if there was anything I could write that I wouldn’t have to amend later. But unless I quote directly from Scripture, the answer is probably “no.” There will always be more to learn and fresh insights to be revealed. Not that the pieces of the puzzle that God has revealed to us in the past are meaningless, but that the more He reveals to us, the clearer the picture gets. I guess it’s humbling and exciting. The other reason I hesitated to update my blog is that I got a letter a couple weeks ago from a good friend, challenging me to read a “non-Christian” book for every “Christian” book I read: “I ask you to do this because when we narrow our world view too much we become one dimensional creatures and often get shut off to other ideas. . .” The part that stuck out to me most was “one dimensional creatures.” So before I could write another spiritual post, I had to examine myself: “Is that what I’ve become?”

I understand my friend’s concern. I know I’m always surprised and impressed when a pastor talks intelligently about something unrelated to ministry. “Huh?” I think, “He knows something about that? Wow, he even takes time to learn about various subjects.” A Christian must surely be acquainted with the stuff of this earth if we’re to understand our neighbors, the people who live and walk and breathe it. However, we cannot separate or “balance” our reading/viewing/listening intake into “Christian” and “non-Christian” categories. On the contrary, we read, view, and listen to everything with the mind of Christ. Our intake can be as diverse as God’s creation (“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness therein” Ps.24:1), and yet everything comes to us through one medium, that is the mind of Christ. At first, I was opposed to my friend’s challenge, lamenting the waste of time it would be to read books of little spiritual value. But then I remembered that God reveals Himself in all things, in all places, and is a part of all history. When we read/watch/listen to things with the mind of Christ and for His glory, we can find great value—and even God’s fingerprint—in a good many atypical “Christian” fields. So I decided to give it a try.

I’d been really looking forward to reading a book on the Holy Spirit, but instead I picked up /Enrique’s Journey/, a heart-wrenching account of the many children who make the dangerous train-top trip from Mexico to the U.S. in search of their mothers. (I have to admit, after a week I gave in and decided to read both books at once^.^) As I was stunned by the cruel circumstances, desperation, and dangers that many Central American children face, I was equally amazed at the connection to Scripture. Take this excerpt from /Enrique’s Journey/: “[The children] don’t know where or when they’ll get their next meal. Some go days without eating. If a train stop even briefly, they crouch by the tracks, cup their hands, and steal sips of water from shiny puddles tainted with diesel fuel. At night, they huddle together on the train cars or next to the tracks. They sleep in trees, in tall grass, or in beds made of leaves” (p.6). Now compare to last week’s devotion from Job 24: “Like wild donkeys in the desert, the poor go about their labor of foraging food; the wasteland provides food for their children. Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked; they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold. They are drenched by mountain rains and hug the rocks for lack of shelter” (vv.5,7-8). Astounding. And horrifying. The words Job spoke thousands of years ago are so very, very relevant today.

As we seek to discover more about this world we live in and the neighbors who share it, considering all things with the mind of Christ and by the light of God’s Word, I imagine the intersection between the Heavenly Kingdom and this broken world will become illuminated. . .And we’ll find ourselves asking, not what must we do, but will we do it?

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*“We must be cautious not to abuse the idea of ‘bearing our cross.’ The cross is too easily turned into a religious metaphor for any of our hardships. But the Bible never waters down the cross into a mere symbol that can make us feel more spiritual by wearing it around our necks. No, the cross is the execution tool of the state that killed Jesus and countless insurgents. And it is the place where Jesus faced and overcame violence with love. ‘The cross of Calvary was not a difficult family situation, not a frustration of visions of personal fulfillment, a crushing debt, or a nagging in-law; it was the political, legally-to-be-expected result of a moral clash with the powers ruling [Jesus’] society.’ There are plenty of biblical motifs to counsel, soothe, and care for people in their troubles, but the cross is not one of them.” -Jesus for President, by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw (in-text quote by John Howard Yoder)