As the guards led Jesus to be crucified, there was an African man in the crowd named Simon, from Libya. He had just arrived from a rural village to keep the Feast of the Passover. The guards laid Jesus’ cross on Simon’s shoulders and forced him to walk behind Jesus, carrying his cross. Luke 23:26
Here’s a true story (you can’t make this stuff up!). A couple of weeks ago, during the endodontist’s attempt at a root-canal procedure, I had my earphones in and the “random” music selection mode engaged, with literally hundreds of songs to choose from. Then, at the precise moment he turned the drill on and I felt those disturbing vibrations in my mouth, the soothing tones of James Taylor were replaced by the Beatles classic “Helter Skelter.” I opened my eyes a crack and I swear it looked like Charles Manson himself was coming at me with a DIY drill from Home Depot!!
So today, in my commitment to walking this journey through Lent in a more interactive fashion, I’m going to revisit the pain of the dentist’s chair! Yesterday’s visit to the oral surgeon was the latest in a long line of invasive procedures – both difficult and expensive.
No, I’m not looking for sympathy so much as I am pointing out what I am learning; and God continues – faithfully – to teach me in every situation.
The fact is that I have not known a lot of pain in my life, especially in comparison to so many of my brothers and sisters in this world. It’s all too easy to be enthusiastic about faith when the bills are paid and health is good and our children (and grandchildren) are practically perfect in every way.
But our walk with Jesus does not stand or fall in relation to the circumstances. Jesus gives us strength, and confidence, and even joy right in the middle of good news and bad news, health and sickness, joy and sorrow, victory and struggle, plenty or want.
The conversation is COVID relevant too, because this is exactly where we find ourselves. And if Jesus is not still Lord, regardless, and we do not continue to experience joy and peace in our lives as believers, and we are not still committed to worshiping and learning together in some life-charged fashion – then we are living a poor theology!
Living our Theology!
This is our challenge, then. Not so much to say the right words or to get our doctrinal positions neatly lined up. Our challenge is to live a theology that spills light and love and good news and belief into the world. Good theology is actually a better story.
The Greatest Story Ever Told must be experienced as the greatest story ever lived. Because we are invited to join Jesus.
And maybe taking up our cross is less being crucified and more being like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry his cross along the Via Dolorosa and to Calvary. Maybe what Jesus is looking for is more participation, more carrying crosses with and for other people, more taking our story with us rather than merely coloring it in and pinning it on the Sunday school wall.
There is always so much to think about. Jesus does that to me. And so, I have to admit, does pain.
Grateful for the Good News Story – DEREK