I want to remember my citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Lent Week 2, Day 10
8 Jesus the Anointed One is always the same: yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by diverse and strange ways of believing or worshiping. It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about what you can eat (which do no good even for those who observe them). 10 We approach an altar from which those who stand before the altar in the tent have no right to eat. 11 In the past, the bodies of those animals whose blood was carried into the sanctuary by the high priest to take away sin were all burned outside the camp. 12 (In the same way, Jesus suffered and bled outside the city walls of Jerusalem to sanctify the people.) 13 Let’s then go out to Him and resolve to bear the insult and abuse that He endured. 14 For as long as we are here, we do not live in any permanent city, but are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:8-14, The Voice)
Jesus suffered outside the city. As the fulfillment of the sacrifices under the old law, Jesus was sacrificed outside the city just as the sacrificial animals were carried outside the camp. The bodies were burned outside the camp; Jesus was hung on the cross outside the city.
And now the Hebrew writer is calling us to go outside the city so that we can connect with and identify with and be redeemed by Jesus. For the city we live in now is only temporary.
I look at what is going on in the world as a whole and I am disheartened. I look at what is going on in the country and I am disheartened. I see the headlines and read the stories and follow the legislation and hear the rhetoric and I realize that most of it is bad. It leads to despair. There is so much shouting; so much yelling; and so little good being done.
But maybe I am focusing my attention on the wrong place. Maybe, I need to head outside the city. Maybe I need to get away from thinking that final answers are coming from people or systems currently here.
As I journey through Lent, I am trying to learn what it means to be a member of society as a Christian. If my relationship with Jesus is truly the most important relationship to me, how do I deal with anger, frustration, and despair? How do I learn how to balance trust in God with involvement in civic issues?
I must remember that Jesus’ life and sacrifice transcend politics. Jesus did not die so that I could get my way. (Jesus also did not die so that you can get your way.) Jesus did not die to affirm any political party’s platform and aspirations. I must remember this.
But I also must remember to act with grace when other people do not remember this. Over the past few months, I have been more disillusioned with Christians who are in support of definitively unchristian principles and statements than with the actual principles and statements themselves.
And what I end up doing is yelling and screaming at those people and treating them with disgust. That is wrong. Because no matter how wrong I think they are, they are still children of God.
And our Jesus died outside the city; outside the realm of politics; outside the issues of the day.
But does this mean I shouldn’t care about those awful principles and statements? No. It means I allow myself to focus first on Jesus, second on where I live. Why do I believe what I believe? Because it is what Jesus teaches me? Or because I have forgotten that this world is temporary?