“...lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2
Day One in Jerusalem began on the Mount of Olives. We stood on the hillside with the whole world in view. It seemed so, at least. Staring across the valley to the Temple Mount, looking across the tombs of the righteous - those of the Jews, the Christians, and finally the Muslims resting along the Temple’s foundation stones - we listened as our guide pointed out Pilate’s Palace, Solomon’s Palace, the valley where Kings offered their children in sacrifice...and I wrote these words in my journal...
As I look out over Jerusalem I’m struck by what seems to be people upon people. Jews, Muslims, Christians - there must be some purpose for their close proximity - a grand “NO” to the idea that somehow God’s lost control and this just happened. I have always had a first response of “Oh, how I wish I could have witnessed a day, a week in the life of Jesus ... to be a follower and see the people interact. As I stand here now, gazing at the Golden Gate through which Christ Jesus entered this city on Palm Sunday, looking at the stairs where hundreds of pilgrims came for Passover - from everywhere...I’m listening to the multitude of languages from the tourists behind me. I’m so keenly aware that people are the same - always. Through time, culture, faith - we all have the same basic needs and desires. Our rules and laws of governance change; our cultural understandings and norms change; the practice of our beliefs change. But we are united in the need to be known. We need to be seen. And we need to be loved for who we are now and for who we might become. My time and place is here - now in 2010. With the same Jesus from long ago, with people who have the same needs - a world and many lifetimes of lessons that reveal over and over God’s peace he would have us live in and extend to one another.
Jews, Muslims, Christians. Suffering, isolation, and persecution are common experiences. They provide opportunities to grow in faith or to become less trusting of people. You can become resistant to being vulnerable and increase the gap between who you allow the world to see and who you really are. Ultimately these sufferings offer one of two paths. The first is the piecing together of our fragmented souls; a life-long restoration to our original image. The second is a strengthening of our current brokenness and increasing the gap in which we relate to God and others. The Israelites were to be the reflection (light, salt) of God to those who did not know him. That’s the WHY of their being “chosen.” Christ chose me and I have chosen him. I count myself among the “chosen ones.” I am to be a holy example of God’s message, with my heart broken by conviction of sin, baptized by the Holy Spirit, and crushed into submission to God’s purposes. Absolute devotion. “ As foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant-these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer...The Sovereign LORD declares-he who gathers the exiles of Israel: I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.” Isaiah 56:6-8 We as Christians have been gathered. It is not enough to see Jesus as the minister of salvation to the world. Our Lord wants us to labor with him. “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is this not what it means to know me?” Jer. 22:16 No, I think where we enact a solution of segregation we remove the reasons to strive for peace with one another. I stood on a hill, over-looking the history of God’s Kingdom, on a rock higher than myself where Jesus wept for all people. I rejoice that in the chaos and the mess, in the suffering and persecution, in the great Gap, there is our God who has never lost control. How great You are, O King Eternal. How faithful You are to every promise. We give you all praise and honor and glory for Your redemptive plan, that is solid beneath the people of earth, the people of all lands. Christians, labor in love. Be His peace among the people. It is so much less about what we think, and all about what God thinks. “Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.” Jer. 23:28
Love you Favored One!