Jesus' Radical New Map of Our World
by Lowell Grisham
you ever seen one of those maps of the world before Columbus?
They're pretty cool. The continent of Europe is distinct with
accurate and recognizable landforms and borders. But out to
the west, into the uncharted waters of the Atlantic there
is nothing. The end of the world. Primeval beasts. Beware!
Beyond there be dragons. You'll fall off the edge.
wasn't the first person to do the math and figure that the
earth was a sphere. There were others in scientific circles
who had found the evidence that we take as so self-evident
today. But the conventional thought was stuck. It had been
stuck a long time. Conventional thought always is.
thought is what everybody knows. And everybody knows that
beyond our comfortable boundaries be dragons. Conventional
thought enforces itself through anxiety. Columbus challenged
the assumptions of conventional thought. He said he wouldn't
fall off the edge. He challenged the anxiety and failure of
nerve of his generation, and where he led, a string of other
explorers followed. The imagination of the whole continent
grew, became unstuck, and we had a new world.
had a series of conflicts with the values of the conventional
thought of his generation. Four in particular: family, wealth,
honor, and religiosity. Jesus dissed family,
criticized the wealthy, mocked places of honor, and chided
those who practiced their religion most seriously.
tore up their maps. Before Jesus, everybody thought that the
right way to live was to honor your family, seek financial
success, earn esteem, and follow the religious laws. Everybody
knows that's what a good person does. Nope, said Jesus. That
will just make you anxious.
circle of relationship is far larger than your family. Wealth
is a distraction and temptation. Seeking honor is silly. Religious
externals are irrelevant. If you stay on that old map you'll
just live a constricted and fearful life.
what walking outside the lines is like. Here's
the new map Jesus offers. Trust God. Trust life itself.
That's what faith means. Embrace life with enthusiasm. All
is love. Everything is given. Look at the lilies of the field.
Open your eyes and see that reality is gracious and compassionate,
so the most real way is the way of graciousness and compassion.
That path, the way, is the way of the heart.
how do you do that? Mostly by dying. You have to die to the
habit of making yourself the center of your concern. And you
have to die to the habit of making the world's cultural values
the definition of your security and identity. Let the conventional
thought die in you. Be unconventional. Free. Trusting. Loving.
you really trust that God is love and that, at the bottom
of everything, love is the most powerful reality in the universe,
you are free to live and free to die. It gets pretty simple.
The only rule? Love God, neighbor,
away the old maps. There's nothing to be earned. Nothing to
be anxious about. No family to please; no affluence or achievement
necessary; no appearances to keep up. God loves you unconditionally.
Everything is a gift. You can sail right off the end of that
map with fearless courage. It's a much more exciting adventure
than trying to stay within the anxious borders of conventional
thought. And, don't let them scare you about those dragons.
That's just the projection of their bounded fears. It's really
a beautiful world out there.