Tuesday, May 31, 2016
The Right Orbit
What is the center of your life...the gravitational pull, the object of your affections, the Sun of your orbit?
It's a tooth and nail fight not to close ranks and duck and cover in an often cold and unmanageable world. Billy Joel once lyricized: "I've found that just surviving is a noble fight." Most of us spend a great deal of our time trying to stay zipped up, put together and armored to go through our days in one psychological piece. The self-centeredness of the human condition in general has collided with an age of unprecedented self orientation. A phenomenal host of technologies assist mankind in the quest to keep itself isolated from pain. (I am, of course, exhibit A...binge watching Netflix in utter avoidance of actually facing down the Spector of my own fears.)
Self must be protected at all costs. Hence the palpable misery of a human race in orbit around itself.
Jesus, in His typical, humble way, demonstrates the way to joy, a way radically at odds with a cultural constellation of self.
At the aptly named Last Supper, the last one He would ever celebrate on the Earth He formed, the One and Only does the unthinkable. Knowing he'll soon be dead, (and getting to death in the worst possible way), Jesus is looking down the barrel at being separated from everyone and everything dear to Him. It is then He blows our minds with this counter cultural attitude and action: He turns His gaze outward.
He holds the flat bread in his hands, food born of the wheat and water He created with a word, and breaks it apart to share. In a stroke of profound and baffling symbolism, Jesus breaks the bread and says "This is my body...".
Nobody got it. Lots of us still don't really get it in a "sophisticated" modern world.
Nobody understood as He served them the broken pieces of the staff of life that this symbol in this moment was about the ultimate breaking; the cosmic opposite of self centeredness - a most beautiful example of humility and grace.
This man was about to give it all, not only to the motley crew at his first century table, but to every lost an broken soul the world had ever known or would ever know. Everyone, everywhere, in every time.
This example of selflessness is the GPS coordinate for the change that brings fulfillment and life. It is not without pain, an it doesn't enhance profit. It's costly. But it does deliver on its promise to satisfy our surly, self orbiting souls. To live is to follow the simple commandment, the 2 for the price of 1 that brings balance and right orientation: Love the Lord our God (the center) with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love our neighbor as ourself.
I'm praying to find my way, one day at a time, to the kind of outward orientation that produces true gain. There's only One Savior, and only His great breaking brings salvation. But we as His current "motley crew" of followers are indeed called to lives of outward orientation and joy. Just surviving may indeed be a noble fight, but it's not enough for the People of The Way. If we're healthy, we long for an abundant life, marked by small, consistent, purposeful, daily acts and attitudes of sacrificial love.
Planets orbit around the Sun: large, powerful, greatly beyond themselves. They circle a star that provides life, light, warmth and the perfect gravitational orientation. They don't take their orbit around each other, or a satellite, or a meteor.
Neither ought we.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,