I read a short article a few years ago about a certain type of South American ant colony that seemed to function with a unique selflessness. As these ants would go out to search for food their ranks would inevitably encounter holes and gaps in the terrain. For a company of ants a dime sized hole could really impede progress in a significant way. So there were some of these ants that would stretch themselves across the gaps and allow the rest of the battalion to walk on their back across the divide, saving time and energy for the majority. All this is accomplished at the expense of the well-being of the sacrificial ant.
I’ve used this story in speaking of Christian community and the church. And I continue to believe it is illustrative of the way we are supposed to treat each other in God’s new society. However, it wasn’t until this morning that I thought of that principle again and began to ponder a wider set of implications for it. It was Paul’s sometimes soothing, sometimes scathing letter to the Galatians that sparked these thoughts in me.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
I am forced to wonder, somewhat nervously, if we are not only supposed to apply this sacrificial humility to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also to those that do not know Him. I know that there will be some collective gasping from the mouths of those that functionally believe that we are a “mighty army of light”, sent by God to destroy the darkness, not surrender to it. However, as I read this text this morning I was once again shaken by the reality of the way the Gospel seems to work. It was the holiest of men, the perfect Godman, Jesus Christ that modeled this practice for us as He went, willingly, to the cross. No one would ever accuse Jesus of soft-peddling sin or unrighteousness, no one would believe that Christ was any less than fully against the brokenness that sin had brought into the world. But, it was the way that Jesus dealt with sin that was so inimitably revolutionary. He didn’t deal with it as any king, despot, or military commander had ever done in history. He became a sort of Trojan horse as He lured evil into believing that it had defeated Him, and then, as Jesus was carried into the headquarters of sin, the grave, there was an explosion of grace that completely disabled their operations. And all of this was accomplished when He laid Himself over the point of separation between man and God and invited the thieves, bandits, murders, misfits, and societal dregs to walk on His back into the land of the living.
I obviously do not believe that any amount of sacrifice I could ever make would make a dent in spiritual enemies, but I do fully believe that I can become an access point and an open door that can help someone step into the fullness of God’s grace. But it requires me to find fractured places and fractured people around me. Paul instructed elsewhere for his readers to “follow me as I follow Christ”, and in doing so he grabbed one side of the gap and hung his toes on the other edge and said, “here, this is best way to find fullness and joy…use me to find Jesus.”
This is the way of the Christian revolution. It has been empirically verified historically that whenever and wherever the Church is pressed and trampled on, in those places, revival springs forth. Sometimes that means laying down our lives, sometimes it means laying down our cultural opinions, sometimes it means laying down our political dogmas, but all the time it means laying aside our safety and comfort for the sake of those who are in need.
Admittedly I am not very good at this. I am much better at finding people with good, strong backs who can be walked on than I am at being walked on myself. I’m more than somewhat opinionated, and I’m rarely convinced that I’m wrong (though I guess I have been once or twice (-:), but it is those very types of things that are best suited for walking on to create great footbridges for people who don’t need to be beaten with my certainties as much as they need to find a way to cross from their fractured and broken existence into the beauty and grace of Jesus’ presence.