Welcome to “off the cuff.”
There has been an obsession in Christianity in the past decades to establish connecting points to our culture, a place to co-identify with those who do not believe in Christ, so that we may present Christ. A prominent message has been – “live at the edge.”
The edge is supposedly a place where “no man has gone before.” Excitement, the rush, the “wow” is intended to get us to step out into the unknown with and for Jesus. The intention appears to be good. The strategy is not, … or possibly, at best, it is poorly worded.
Anybody can live on the edge. It takes little courage, discipline, wisdom, graciousness or discernment to live at the extremities. It’s new; there are no rules, no boundaries, no footprints to follow (for many mysteriously vanish over the edge of edginess). The edge is a dangerous place for more than one reason.
His name is well known among Bible readers. He is the Old Testament prophet whom God used to write the large book that we today know as Isaiah. He’s the one who tradition says met his death by being sawn in two. One of the more well known parts of his writings is what happened “in the year that King Uzziah died ….” A transition of leadership was forced upon the nation. The fear of instability was created by death. Then came the telling part, the important part. “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
“The Lord,” “throne,” “temple.” Each of these descriptors points not to “the edge,” but to “the center.” Here Isaiah’s uncleanliness is removed. Here God meets him. Here is where the action is. It is from this experience that he is sent out.
The most challenging “place” (experience) to be is not “the edge,” but “the center.” The flame gets cool at the edges, it is hottest at the center. Holiness is at its best in God’s presence, most clear around His throne. This is the most dangerous place to live … and the best, where we almost plead for less of this divine excitement because it is overwhelming.
Without the results from yet another Survey Monkey questionnaire, another “were you satisfied with … ,” instead we move beyond the goods of sociology to the results found in the revelation of Scripture that verify the divine conclusion. It is this: people are far more afraid of the center, than the edge.
Peter, denied the Son of God, as he warmed himself on “the edge.” Jonah would verify that living “in the deep and mysterious” was not what he had anticipated it to be. The list of “edgers” is long; consider Samson, David, Saul, Jacob, Abraham … all tried hanging out at the edge. Yet, each would confirm that life was from more challenging, deeper, more difficult, yet richer when they lived at “the center.”
Looking over the edge may give you a rush. The sight takes away your breath. Free-falling is exhilarating. The problem is when we hit the bottom. Boulders, cement bottoms, picket fence-like restraints quickly replace what was once “cool.” Retracing our steps back from “the edge” we readjusted our conclusion that the old just may be wiser and better. Moving toward the center will definitely heat things up. Here the flame is hottest … and yes, “the center” has not changed, it is still Jesus.