It was Easter and we had not watched any of The Bible series on The History Channel. I had planned to sit with the conclusion, the final episode this Easter evening with my husband and maybe a teenage child or two if we could get them to sit down and stay still. More challenging than the toddler years, some days with all the moving around. I longed to experience the story on the screen and to honor Him in re-living the story of His suffering as the creators portrayed it through art. But I was hesitant too because this was the final night and this was the Cross.
And as we prepared dinner and snuggled by a Spring fire, burning wood, warming the room, I said to my husband, I hear this is really hard to watch.
His brilliant response to me was isn’t that the point. I meant what I said and so did he and we were both “right”. Yes, it was both hard to watch and the point of the Cross.
We watched and it was difficult and that sounds overly simplistic. But don’t we want to turn away from the suffering and the blood. We want to shield our eyes and our hearts from the slow painful walk to the cross, Jesus falling over, the cross, so heavy, so very tortuous in its weight on his back. The magnitude of the moments there on the screen so filled with the cruelty of man. The vinegar on the sponge, the mocking. And there was certainly an out for us, golf or basketball or even Duck Dynasty re-runs. But not truly. There had to be the cross. And there was no out for Jesus.
And in the days since Easter the discontent and pain right here, well its hard to watch too. A teenager struggling mightily, friends and strangers arguing about theology or discussing scripture and its truths. Its hard to live it out. The pain of this life, this side of glory. The disappointment this week is oppressive. And wasn’t it just Easter with all its glory and hope and new. The news through the phone, through the screen, through the mouthes of those I love. There is suffering here.
But this we know.
I stumble on a recipe for tofu scrambles. While the photography is beautiful and the ingredients are fresh I don’t choose this for myself. Or my family. But I am not going to throw tofu scrambles under the bus. Literally or otherwise. I may throw them down the drain if I have a chance. Or I may think twice before turning my head in visceral disgust. Tofu, not a big fan.
But more and more I am learning about life and God from people who do not see the world or faith the way I do. And when I start to shut my ears and eyes and heart then I shut down my capacity to love, the different, the not quite like me, the others in this world. When I start closing myself with all my senses, my capacity to love my willingness to love, well it will be next. And I am called to love, maybe not agree, but love.
My faith, my world-view and my interpretation of scripture are all as they are for me, now. But I seek to love those who have a nuanced view of this life as believers, as Jesus followers. And those who are not believers. Because I am called to love like Jesus loved.
More and more I find refuge and beauty in poetry. More and more I run there to express my heart, to find my creative place to play, to delve deep into life through the framework of the poetic.
But I step out of that for this. These words here.
I must think about how Jesus loved, to review all that He said of love. Review in my mind how beautifully diverse his followers were, especially the early ones, the inner-circle. And aren’t we called as followers of Jesus to love as best we can in our brokenness and sinfulness like he loves. Like he loved. And in and by His power we can love deeper and more tenderly than on our own.
I have seen so much fighting and disagreement in these recent days. And though I am tucked into my little part of this world, I know I am not alone. I have seen it very close up, audibly in my world. And I have witnessed it from a distance too.
This is being human. This is the world this side of heaven.
But can we love as we disagree? And disagree as we love. Can we honor those with whom we don’t agree on matters of faith and walking- out- life decisions. Can we wrap ourselves in the cloak of the greatest of these, the one that bears all, the banner over all – Love.
And you can have your tofu scrambles and I may have my cheeseburger. And as I play back in my mind’s eye my night in front of a warm Spring fire while watching Jesus walk bleeding and bent. Christ wearing a crown of thorns, a cross on his back covered in blood, carrying my sin in scripture and on the screen. I want to weep.
I have to ask myself now and daily, how would Jesus love. And then I must walk out the answer as I hear it, in my daily living.
My poetry awaits. It is sort of like a carriage waiting to carry me off to a place of beauty and peace. But I cannot hide. I must love like Jesus.
I want to live as a child of God and I want to love like Jesus. So can we sit at the table of fellowship with our tofu and our cheeseburgers, break bread together, love harder and better and more like him.
And remember the Cross.