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Beyond All Borders
Jesus' Radical New Map of Our World
by Lowell Grisham

Have 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.

Columbus 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.

Conventional 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.

Jesus 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.

He 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.

Your 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.

Here's 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.

And 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. Fearless.

If 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, and self.

Throw 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.

Related Links

Becoming Human
Core Teachings of Jesus

Being Real:
A Guide to Benedictine Spirituality

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