Thursday, April 4, 2013

On The View from Inside

It was Easter Sunday and we were sitting with his family at the church his father pastors. It was time for the homily and I sat in anticipation. Philip is an amazing speaker and what he says leaves me thinking for hours afterward. This was no different. He talked about when the women went to Jesus' tomb and the angel telling them "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?" He said it was like someone taking a look and going "nothing much happening there." He then mentioned Jesus' followers reaction to the women. They doubted and basically told them to stop making things up. The sermon went on about the perception of "nothing much happening" when Peter ran to the tomb. Why didn't he go inside? What would have happened if he had? I was pondering a lot and missed a few minutes when Philip challenged us. The challenge set of an electrical storm in my mind, which has sat with me for days. 

Are Christians in the tomb looking out? Why? What do we see from the inside looking out. The rest of the world is looking in. Are they saying "nothing much happening there" and walking away? Yes, too many Christians are in the tomb. Some are not even bothering to look out. Why? Because it feels safe inside those walls. Surrounded by stone and the moment death was overcome, we have the basis for our faith all close. The walls are our various interpretations of His word - barriers that blend the Old and New Testaments instead of making the distinction of when the miraculous moments of His birth and death occurred, and how His words and actions here on Earth should be the guide for how we live. Inside the tomb we don't have to accept what is outside. We can point fingers at it, quote interpretations at it, race out and grab a few people or give a few handouts so we feel better, and then huddle back inside where it feels safe. I know this because I used to be that way. I used to make sure I was surrounded by just believers and tried to shut the rest out. Part was because I had been a bit sheltered growing up and it scared me- mostly because I just did not want to know. I was perfectly fine with not looking for answers myself and just going with the flow inside the tomb. Even when bickering amongst ourselves breaks out, it still is more secure hugging the walls than leaving. However, God has a way of reaching in and taking us out...I was yanked with fingers stretched, scraping the sides, and trying to get back in (but that is for another time.)

The rest of the world? They aren't really looking in much. Perhaps a glance or a momentary pause, but they are not really looking. Why should they? It seems, as of late, that when we do step out it is more of an explosion. We race out yelling about an issue or quickly patching up an area affected by catastrophe, then run back inside. Those who look in either see nothing going on that would make them want to stay, or they see us bickering amongst ourselves and decide it looks nicer out in the open. Most won't even bother to look in. They are the ones scarred by what comes across as hatred coming from a group who had been taught to "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Love one another as I have loved you." The ones who had been told over and over that they must believe a certain way or do certain things or whose questions are met with excuses or anger. People who have been told their sin is worse than others, even when His word clearly states that all sin is equal. Perhaps they are the starving bodies and souls in another part of the world, dying to be saved - but not enough of us are leaving the tomb. Those Christians on the outside, they see us becoming our own worst enemies. They try to reach in and show those in the tomb what this hurting world really needs. Sometimes they are successful and another leaves the shelter to live out in the open as a beacon for others. Some get so discouraged that they go back into the tomb.

So what is the solution? Other than ripping the roof off the tomb and tearing down a couple walls, I'm not sure. What I do know is we need to stop arguing, step outside our comfort zone, and start living in a way that shines Christ's love for everyone. We need to leave the place of the dead and live, really live, among the dying souls. It is not an easy place to be. We'll be challenged and stretched in ways you never imagined. I am. The fact that this post even exists is proof. You'll love those who you don't want to love. Forgive more than you thought possible. Remember to keep an open mind and being receptive to what others are trying to show you. I am learning so much by listening.  Learn to speak to those who don't believe the same way with tact and dignity instead of a sermon. There will be failures, probably a couple of epic ones. I've been there many times too, but it is amazing how far you will go and how much your faith will grow. Oh and don't forget prayer. If there is anything I've learned since Christ pulled me out of the tomb is to keep a steady flow of conversation going on with God. Not a scheduled session or repeating of the same words - a proper dialogue. That still small voice will lead you farther away from the tomb and shelter you in His arms as you walk amongst the living. 

*disclaimer* I am by no means an expert on anything that is above.  This was just from my heart and I had to write it here. If, as has happened in the recent past, you are offended and feel something needs to be said, that is fine. I wasn't offended by the social media comments after my grace post by a couple people who wrongly thought I was speaking about them. That isn't something I would do and if they took time to know me, they'd have realized.
#easter #tomb #LoveOneAnother #resurrection #compassion  

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