It’s dark outside- midnight black. Looking out the window I see street lights scattered out over the area. It’s cold, dark, not a scene I want to walk into – and I’m thankful that our small apartment is warm. I am playing music from a pan flute on my computer as I think about these past two days. The calming Indian melody is soothing to my mind.
Since yesterday, our home has been invaded by people: reporters, victims, FBI; a continuous parade of images, commentators, more questions than answers. The television is showing a tragedy in a normal community in California, as a man and wife, radical Muslim jihadists, used automatic weapons to literally mow down people who had come together for a Christmas party. The added touches of unreality: these were friends and co-workers they killed and maimed, and they left their six-month old child at home with a relative to go out and kill people they knew. Their motive: these people were infidels and deserved to die.
I am still attempting to absorb this.
I live in Oregon at this time – the state to the north of California. I’ve walked on the streets of San Bernardino, felt the sun on my back. I’ve been there. This wasn’t in Paris.
This was here, in the United States.
The world has shifted. The nation I once knew as home, changed gradually, then like a snowball the changes picked up speed. At times, it is frightening to learn of the new laws against the citizens of this nation and against Christianity that are enacted behind the fabric and façade of a theater-in-the-round in Washington DC. Our eyes are pulled to one scene of action while the setting hides what is really happening on another part of the stage.
What does all of this mean to me personally? As I work through the sorrow and sick feeling in the pit of my stomach?
One: I no longer fit into this culture.
The nation I once called “home” no longer exists.
The stage setting is still the same: looking at a Google map, mountains, cities, rivers, lakes, oceans – they are still where they belong. However, there is fear in the land. An unease is in the air we breathe.
I remember the fear and unease after Pearl Harbor, and during the 2nd World War. I was only a child, but I picked up on it. I also remember how the nation came together as grief was a companion to all of us. I still remember the pain of learning that a young man we’d learned to love would not be coming back. The feeling of desolation.
That feeling has been repeated too many times these last years as a new word, terrorist, has become part of our daily vocabulary. However, now the word terrorist is no longer just a word. It is a living, breathing person. And the nation is no longer united but splintered into factions, a set-up for attack.
That old song, “This Old World Is Not My Home”, carries an added depth in its words, as I comprehend that I don’t feel at home here . . . and search to understand.
Two: I’m not supposed to fit into this culture.
Jesus the Christ tells us that we live in this world, but we’re not of this world.
I live here, but I don’t fit in. My home is in His Kingdom: a nation made up of people scattered all over the world.
God’s Law and the Prophets climaxed in John;
Now it’s all kingdom of God — the glad news
and compelling invitation to every man and woman.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language
© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Christ’s followers are a unique people, considered strange by many.
We are to follow Him, King above all kings, the creator of the incredible complexities of and in nature, on this planet and all the vast extents of the universe: a King who came to live among his subjects, His kingly lineage hidden under the disguise of common clothing, walking in sandals on dusty roads; unafraid, not forced into the religious traditions of the day, speaking and moving with truth in love, allowing himself to be killed because He was a threat to the religious leaders. Then after completing an item of law (remember, on the cross He said, “It is finished”) He entered hell and tore the gates of death from the entrance to Satan’s abode. Finally, He rose from the dead – victorious over death so we don’t have to fear it.
Once again, donning His kingly robes, He was given even more authority than He’d had previously; He is alive today, involved personally in our lives, when we choose to follow Him and live in His kingdom.
Just as I chose to move to Brazil, learn their laws and obey them, so I choose to live in the Kingdom of God. I know the King personally and He calls me His sister! ( But I don’t have squabbles with Him, for He is also my King.)
You know? I’ve never been invited to know or speak with the president of Brazil but I know my King and speak to Him several times each day. And He answers me!
Does that sound a little crazy to you? Remember, I said Jesus Christ’s followers don’t really fit into this world we live in. We follow a different drumbeat and hear a new and fresh melody.
Can you hear it, too?