Why did Jesus, Rocky, and Dave Cross the Road?
One of the first videos that I’m going to show my granddaughter, Emerson, will be one of Simone Biles at the 2016 Olympics winning the gold with her floor exercise! (Click here to watch it again.) After watching her, even I wanted to get on that floor and do a flip! And when you add to that her powerful personal triumph over poverty and addiction (her mother’s) you can’t help but be get off the couch and go to the gym. There is something about watching a person perform at that high of a level that inspires the whole world to get off their couch and start living!
In many ways, that’s one of the effects Jesus’ life has on me. When I read about the creative ways in which he used his servant love to confront the principalities of coercive power in Jerusalem, it gives me the courage to step out and claim a prophetic ministry of my own. When Jesus reaches out and heals the leper, gives sight to the blind, and helps the lame to walk, it makes me want to give money to our Honduras mission trip, because we are sending a nurse and a doctor there who will be healing others in deep need. When Jesus reaches out, on the cross no less, and forgives the thief on the cross, he inspires me to forgive those whom I hold a grudge against. When I read about this Jesus, who lives such a courageous life and overcomes even death on a cross, I feel like putting on the music to “Rocky,” as I run up the steps to Bear Creek UMC (a joke here…there’s only one!)
Adam Hamilton, in the last chapter of his book 24 Hours That Changed the World, shares an understanding of atonement (at-one-ment) called “Christ the Victor.” Adam uses a boxing analogy to explain this theory:
“In Jesus Christ, God entered a boxing arena to take on a very powerful enemy. This enemy, like the Philistine giant Goliath of old, held humanity captive. Human beings live in a world where “Might is right” and where evil seems so often the victor. Even the “Righteous” of Jesus’ day were shown in the story of Christ’s betrayal, condemnation, and death to be jealous, petty slaves to their own sin; and all of us prisoners of the forces of death.
The reality of our enslavement to evil, sin, and death is evident all around us. It is seen in the 30,000 children who die each day of hunger and diseases related to malnutrition while others have plenty. It is seen in the continued wars and violent conflicts across the globe. It is seen in the selfishness and greed that have let to economic catastrophes, and it is seen in the pain we bring upon one another in our interpersonal relationships.
In Jesus, God entered the boxing arena where evil seems to have the upper hand. He took the worst blows of the enemy, being subject to the powers that conspired to destroy him. He was beaten, abused, and eventually knocked out. But just when the match seemed lost, Jesus arose; and in his resurrection he dealt a finishing blow to the forces of evil, sin, and death. Christ became the Victor. With his victory, all humankind was offered the opportunity to join forces with him; to be set free from the power of evil, sin, and death; and to live lives of hope, freedom, and love.”
We are Easter people. We are Rock Balboa’s. We are overcomers!
At Bear Creek UMC, one of my favorite Easter people is Dave Becker. Dave was a pilot for many years but has been struck a major blow by the evil disease of called Parkinsons . But what I love about Dave (and Jan…his Adrian) is that he doesn’t let Parkinson’s have the last word. Last week, on Good Friday, our church gathered for an experiential worship service called “Peter’s Walk.” During this experience, participants are blind folded, asked to go barefoot, and led through a variety of experiences around the life of Peter. When we gathered in the lobby and announced to the 50 or so folks there that they would be asked to go barefoot and be blindfolded, I saw a few folks looking for the exits! They were not going to do this! But then they watched as Dave, sitting on his walker-chair, started to take off his shoes and asked for a blindfold…Bear Creek’s version of “Rocky” was ready for the fight! And because Dave and Jan were willing, so were the rest of us!
That’s who we are. We are Dave and Jan Becker at Peter’s Walk. We are Jesus Christ at the cross. We are Easter people overcoming untold obstacles because of the God we trust in!
Bear Creek, how can you live your life in such a way this week that you inspire others?
Your friend and pastor, ready to go into battle, Brook
JUST A NOTE ABOUT DAVE: Last night I received a call that Dave was taken to the hospital for an emergency surgery. He is in ICU as I write this. May we all say an extra prayer for Dave and Jan as they battle on.