Today was a day of extremes.
Today I sat on the porch of a cottage, the sea breeze finding my clothing no levee to its saline chill, and watched the generations above and below me, grand relations that they are, pass their time in the timeless activity of casting out and reeling in, the Good Lord himself joining in with his own ebbing out and flowing in. My father and my sons, backdropped by the unceasing and immeasurable grandeur of God’s creation, playing out before me Jesus’ promise of life abundant.
I drank it deeply in.
I drank also deeply of evil.
Today I sat on the porch of a cottage, the sea breeze no match to the wickedness which froze my bones, and watched as a car plowed through a crowd of people, shoes and bodies launched unwillingly from earth’s natural pull. I heard over the impassioned prayer of a worshiping congregation the sneers and jeers, equally impassioned, though antithetically energized, of a cresseted crowd in search of violence.
Today I sat on the porch of a cottage with the Word of Life on one side and the words of death on the other. In between were the words I had thought to bring, but now seemed so deeply inadequate.
“Dear children,” the apostle once wrote, “the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared.” (1Jn 2.18) And so they have. I have seen their faces. They looked like mine.
“There, but for the grace of God, go[ I],” John Bradford is credited as saying. And also, “when [seeing] any drunk or hear[ing] any swear, &c., [he] would railingly complain, ‘Lord I have a drunken head; Lord, I have a swearing heart.’”
Lord, I have a bigoted head. Lord, I have a violent heart.
We keep using that word. I do not think it means what we think it means.
The one with control. The one with authority. The one who is present with us.
This one simply breathes and “galaxies form out of nothing, mountains appear with one word.”
This one, standing opposite his own mob of torch bearers, powerful enough to drive them to the ground with only his words, ‘I AM he,’ (Jn 18.5) was led like a lamb to the slaughter. A silently shorn sheep. (Isa 53.7, kinda) “[H]e never said a mumblin’ word”
Jesus is Lord.
This statement is a declaration of allegiance. Of belonging. A cry from the rooftops that, regardless of whatever sinful propensities I find within my own heart, I am of Jesus. No matter how many times I may “want to do what is right, but I can’t. I [may] want to do what is good, but I don’t. [or] I [may not] want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Rom 7.18–19) I can cry with the apostle, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Rom 7.24) And I can answer with him as well, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 7.25)
No longer is my allegiance to “blood and soil.” To a flag. To a country. To a man.
By Jesus’ blood we “who once were far away have been brought near.” (Eph 2.13) We are no longer “foreigners or strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,” (Eph 2.19) By his death on the cross Jesus has made peace where there was division, peace where there was hostility, peace near, peace far. (Eph 2.14–16, ish)
My allegiance is to a King and a Kingdom. A kingdom where the Lord’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt 6.10) Where the poor are given the Kingdom and the mourners are comforted. Where the humble inherit the whole earth and those who hunger and thirst for justice are satisfied. Where the merciful receive mercy and the pure in heart see God. Where the peacemakers are God’s children and the persecuted are Kingdom dwellers. (Matt 5.3–10)
Anything short of this, any hope, any dream, any person, any job, any system, any ideology, any theology, any blessing, or any other created thing which gets in the way of this kind of living is to be thrown down and cast aside.
There, with the grace of God, go I.
“How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Rom 10.15)
Today was a day of extremes.
Today I sat on the porch of a cottage, the sea breeze filling my lungs as the Word filled my heart, and I believed anew this Good News. This Good News that “tells us how God makes us right in his sight.” That “This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.” (Rom 1.17)
Today I sat on the porch of a cottage, looked evil square in the eye, and said, “Jesus is Lord.”