6-13-16 - The Other Side

The life of faith always includes a call to the Other – the other side, the other perspective, the other who is a stranger – and perhaps also strange. In the Gospels we see that Jesus was pretty much always on the move, and so were those who followed him. In this week’s story, he takes his disciples on a short journey to a far-away land.

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him.

Before we enter this rich and multi-faceted tale, let’s look at the set-up. Jesus and his disciples cross the Sea of Galilee: One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.”

They were leaving familiar territory and going to the “Ten Cities,” a Gentile land, where foreigners dwelt, non-Jews, “others.” The other side. The land beyond. Do we hear echoes of the “other world,” that Kingdom place Jesus was always talking about, his other home? That realm sharing time and space with this one, yet completely Other, contained in no time or space as we know it; where our rules are not?

We might see Jesus’ incarnation this way, how he crossed to the Other Side, to this realm from that heavenly Life. He brought with him the practices and “rules” of that realm and invited us to see them at work in this one. He came here to make it possible for us to cross into God-Life, and to take God-Life to the “other sides” in our world.

Only three words, “the other side,” but they invite us to be open to the Story. Anything can happen on the other side. It might be scary. It might be exciting. It might change your life, or you might change someone else’s. Indeed, the first “other” Jesus encounters is not merely Gentile; he is also seriously possessed by the demonic. There is need for healing and deliverance in this land, cause for fear, cause for faith.

What if your story today started, “One day Jesus got into a boat with me and said, ‘Let’s go to the other side.” Where might that be? Would you be happy to go? In prayer, imagine your conversation with Jesus in that boat. “Where are we going?” Why can’t we stay here?” “What do you want me to do when we get there?” I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I believe it will be a rich way of praying. And I believe Jesus will go with us wherever he asks us to go.

The life of God does not seem to include a lot of staying put. We settle just long enough to share the Good News and see it catch, and then we’re led to the next place or activity or relationship or initiative. And that new thing is almost always among the Other. How else can the Other become our friend?

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