Keep Calm and …

… Carry On reads a famous WWII propaganda poster. … and Bring Grenades reads a Firefly fan t-shirt.

If I were following my natural inclinations, I’d have plenty of grenades. That’s a very human approach to adversity. When someone damages our calm, we often want to respond forcefully, decisively, and with a couple of ounces of C4. But there’s a better way. The way of Jesus.

Uh, oh. He’s going all preachy on us.

No, at least, I hope not. When Jesus called people to himself, he rarely did it with a sermon. Or a lecture or a book. He mostly invited people to come and follow Him into a new humanity fit for the world as God intended it to be. Many of His followers have been preaching sermons at folks for a couple of millennia with mixed results. Others have been simply following Him, and those disciples often display an amazing calm.

That calm, their shalom, comes from their understanding of what God is doing in His creation, not necessarily at some detailed level but in the grand working out of things. With that understanding of where God is taking the world, most problems become small scale set against eternity.

Those disciples of Jesus also seem to be a pretty humble bunch. They know who they are and don’t have either too high or too low a view of themselves. They see themselves as important enough that the Son of God died for them but no more or less important than any of the other sinners His death and resurrection redeem. That recognition of who they are before God gives them a sense of proportion.

Another thing about these disciples is that they, like Jesus, are open to others. Jesus was able to accept the hospitality of the rich and then go and hang out with tax collectors and hookers. These followers, like Jesus, speak out against sin, but they leave it to others to decide which path they to take. There is a time to allow someone to make a bad choice. There is a time to stand between an evildoer and the innocent. There is a time to say things like, “Abortion stops a beating heart.” But it is always time to reach out to a hurting world with love.

The kind of love that these disciples show is not at all self-centered. It’s the opposite of the narcissism we see so much of these days.

Indeed, that lack of self-centeredness practiced by these followers of Jesus leads them to a sort of holy indifference to their material circumstances. Whether poor or rich, whether up or down, they are satisfied. They have a joy that is independent of their material circumstances.

They don’t ignore the future, but they are grounded in the present, in the moment that God is sharing with them now. That leads them to a different understanding of what is sacred. If God is with them now, then isn’t this moment sacred? If He is present here, then isn’t this place sacred? The word secular means “of the world,” but their real world is sacred.

Look at what these disciples have found in Jesus. Peace in a frantic world. Humility in a posturing world. Open nonjudgmentalism in a divided world. Caring for others in a narcissistic world. Joy in a dissatisfied world. Holy indifference to the material things of the world. Presence in the real world.

I admit that I do a pretty poor job of staying on that path. But, with God’s help, I keep trying. I’m still a work in progress.