This morning while reading Ezekiel 4:1-17, where God has his prophet lay on his side for weeks at a time, I began to consider the “camera lens” of the Bible. Where does God’s eye rest? On a man laying on his side for months—as a sign. The Bible teaches us to look at life God’s way. The lens of the Bible is always focused on God’s creative and redemptive work. We should note the difference between the redemptive focus of the Scriptures and the way we twenty-first century humans mark time, value persons, and ascribe honor to nations.
Much of the New Testament was written by a man the world considered a criminal. Paul wrote in chains because the gospel was a threat. The cross is a sign of humiliation for rebellion against the state. “The king of the Jews” was Pilates way of mocking Jesus and the Jews.
Jesus’ resurrection is a robbery of death. God is a grave robber. Throughout the scriptures a person comes to expect their lot in life to involve an honored death, but in the resurrection those expectations are crushed. Jesus in effect rushes to the cross where he is humiliated, and he then robs death and makes resurrection the new lens by which we see all kingdom activity. (2 Cor. 5:16-17)
We should get behind every story for its kernel, asking for God’s take on the situation. We must be careful not to become agents of good-will in worldly ways. The world esteems do-gooders. They become the pinnacle of success — “follow our dreams” and “do some good” and all that crap. We know that no one is good except God. (Lk. 18:18-19) Jesus wasn’t crucified for his miracles. The people liked those. He was crucified for who he claimed to be.
We should focus on who a person is and not what they can do for us. The world only cares about who we are for what we accomplish.
We are all only agents of God’s new order in Jesus. All that we do are signs of His ways of Being. They are not the end in themselves.
Prayer is a subversive activity because it focuses our desires and attention onto God’s will. That places us in a terribly vulnerable place wherein we say “not my will but Yours be done.” Prayer places us at risk of being misunderstood. People think prayer is inactivity because it assumes that God is usually inactive. We know that God is always active.
While we cannot lower our eyes from our planet’s suffering, we should only view it via God’s “camera lens.” Suffering is the hardest “nut to crack.” Its the anvil that wears out many a hammer. We fear death less than suffering. It makes time it’s play thing and calls the whole of frail life into question.
Is God greater than suffering? Is God present in human suffering? Was God present in the gas chambers of Auschwitz? In the streets of Kigali (Rwanda)? In the villages of Darfur? In the WTC on 9/11? In the destroyed homes of Jenin in 2002? With the untold throngs of civilian dead from the War on Terror?
The world is numb to the images of suffering it encounters daily. The earth can’t bear to count her dead. I think of Global Warming the same way. Though we must act, we know that our actions are only signs of desire to see things changed. (Every bottle I recycle is a grain of sand compared to what one hundred airline jets blow out their turbines on an hourly basis.) Saying yes to God is an invitation to be present where He is suffering with this decaying creation and it’s people.
The image of my mother dying is still fresh in my mind. I was powerless to stop her suffering. All I could do was be present, hold her hand, say good-bye and release her to Jesus.
Believing in the power of Christ’s cross, his resurrection and what these reveal about God’s “camera eye” on things changes me. I turn every perceived failure, every victory, over to God. That’s the only way I see being of any use in this life.