This morning as I was praying, a prayer unrelated to the crucifixion, I saw an image most remarkably clear in my mind’s eye. As you may have guessed by the title, it was three crosses. Jesus was center of the three, likely it would seem, as thus goes the story of his being crucified between two thieves.
Accompanying this vision was a gnawing awareness, perhaps cultivated by recent international events, of the growing divide between those seeking God in today’s world. Complicating factors are masses of people well connected through technology, yet with an imparity of resources, stirred up by a polarized media bias with only the façade of conscientious journalism; not to mention a globe too small by virtue of today’s powerful weaponry and its growing religious fanaticism.
We do not seem to be headed (no sick pun intended) in a good direction, at least not for all mankind.
Being raised as an evangelical, these days are referred to almost affectionately as the “last days”; and, for those with a pre-tribulation bent (I’ll let the readers do their own research),are seen as a necessary thing with little long term consequence for the Christian. Yet, most of those Christians live in isolated silos within American Christendom. For those Christians within more underdeveloped countries or countries in crisis, their world experience may lead them to believe quite differently.
Lest I go too far down this road, the images this morning and the understanding that seemed to flow from them was about neither of the positions discussed above. More it seemed the intent of the Spirit was to provide a sense of urgency as to what we were doing with Jesus. Hung between two thieves, one more open than the other but none the less both thieves.
Was God trying to speak to me further about my now over two year old and growing awareness of what He is doing to fulfill the commitment and promise to Hagar, the blessing of Ishmael? You see for some time, I have felt compelled to keep my heart open to the thoughts of those now wrestling with the plurality of America. Even to the extent of agreeing to my first visit to the middle-East, Lebanon in fact, just one day after what I knew would be a brutal political defeat. I was exhausted but following my heart. What I experienced changed my perspective forever about two religions, one being my own.
American Christianity has lost it footings, not only generationally but doctrinally. This post may be the dividing line between myself and many whom I love, but even that only makes more clear an earlier message to my heart, “embrace the cross,” now also over two years old. This caution and calling was voiced deep within me, each time I found myself struggling with political observations among those who often boast, yes at times arrogantly, as possessing the most capacity to love and the more Biblically sound within the Body of Christ. We have become comfortable with the labels “far-right” and “far-left” as battle lines within the Church, an institution founded on sacrificial love.
Might this God of Abraham, who shocked the off-spring of Judaism by becoming flesh, now be challenging both Judaism and Christianity as He moves outside of the “sheep pen” to reveal himself to the offspring of this child of Sarah’s handmaiden, now orphaned to both sects of the Judeo-Christian religion, though this covenant with Ishmael was captured plainly in the Book both love and honor, The Pentateuch? Is the God who became flesh, challenging both religions developed around His Name, to the point of His own death? Is Aslan now stirring once more, yet rejected in part by all, each overwhelmed by this pure and awesome love for all mankind?
Once more Jesus is hung in the middle of our philosophical and religious differences but none the less at work in a powerful way that could fulfill the numerous and insurmountable prophecies scattered throughout both the Old and the New Testaments.