He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Recently, I listened in on a conversation between Krista Tippett and Michelle Alexander. Krista Tippett is the host of the online podcast, On Being, and Michelle Alexander is the author of the best-selling book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” The title of this particular conversation is, “Who We Want to Become: Beyond the New Jim Crow,” (emphasis mine).
I’m intrigued by that word, beyond. As followers of Christ, we are beyond people. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have unique access to the God of the Universe, who is making all things new. God sees beyond the way things are and knows how things can be. When we claim as our inheritance this same divine perspective, we bring the hope of beyond into every encounter, every situation, every relationship along the way. As the righteousness of God, we bring beyond to all systems of injustice and every instance of hopelessness. Beyond racism, beyond sexism, beyond classism, beyond political affiliations, beyond poisoned drinking water, beyond inadequate housing, beyond a shrinking middle class, beyond terrorism.
We are the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Sometimes, we lose sight of our divine perspective. When this happens, we are easily persuaded to throw up our hands and declare that things will never change, or that’s just the way things are, or that she deserves what she gets when she wears those clothes, or that they should figure out how to keep their fathers out of jail.
We are God’s ambassadors, bringing the message of reconciliation to a divided world. Let’s not get distracted by what we see to the point that it causes us to stop reaching toward the promises of God. Those promises lie beyond the disappointments and injustices and frustrations of our age. We may want to deny the unfair practices, or declare that none of those things matter, but we’d be shirking our divine calling if that’s the route we chose. Instead, we are called to enter into the conversation, bringing a perspective that calls the world to something beyond the systems and practices and viewpoints which oppress and divide.
At the end of that conversation between Krista Tippett and Michelle Alexander, Michelle Alexander offers this insight:
…if we are going to evolve spiritually, morally, as human beings, we’re going to lean in to caring more, and loving more for one another, and honoring our connectedness, and our oneness, and resist that impulse, that fear-driven impulse to divide and label and react with punitiveness rather than care and concern.
This is the language of beyond — beyond divisions and labels and punitive actions. As people who follow the Christ, what we bring to the world looks like love and care and honor and oneness. This is exactly what Jesus prayed for us: that we might be one so the world will know that Jesus was sent by God. Together, we reach for what God offers us, behind the veil of what we see in this physical world. We bring eternity into each day, and we seek out the image of God in every encounter. And, as he promised us, God is always making all things new.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
What changes when you begin to think of yourself as a beyond person? How does the idea of beyond give you hope? In what ways might a beyond perspective keep you from engaging in the world in which you live? How can you guard against letting this happen?
Lord, I am so grateful for the promises you’ve given to us, especially that you are making all things new. Help me to take an active role in this present world, as your ambassador of reconciliation. Help me bring hope to this world, through the power of the Holy Spirit and for your glory. Amen.