In Jesus’ day, large bodies of water were looked upon with great suspicion, and frequently referred to as ‘the abyss’, as it was where evil, chaotic spirits lived. As such, few people would dare to sail across open water, choosing instead to stay close to shore.
The profession of ‘fisherman’ was, contrary to our contemporary view, a rather rare one, so Jesus’ choosing at least 5 fishermen of his 12 closest companions was a statement in itself. These were men who dared to live their lives on the edge of the abyss, unafraid of the danger present there (both spiritual and physical). When we were called to be ‘in the world, but not of it’, we, too, were called to live on the edge of the abyss – close enough to the world to impact it, and close enough that the world can – if we’re not careful – bite us right back.
He doesn’t call us to be safe, to sequester ourselves from the world, like the Essenes, who were his contemporaries. Nor does he call us to physically attack the world, to try to bring about the Kingdom by means of violence, in the fashion of the Zealots. Conversely, we weren’t to grow to love the world so much that we became indistinguishable from it, like the Herodians, or to abuse what positions we may obtain for our own selfish ends, like the Saducees. Neither were we to become legalistic or hypocritical, like certain (but not all) Pharisees he condemned.
Instead, He gave us a mission to engage people where they are and to execute the Great Commission. Additionally, following his example, we are to root out hipocrisy and legalism within our own ranks – particularly when it’s purpose or result is to disenfranchise the oppressed, the weak and the downtrodden from His kingdom.
Here, we hope to challenge each other, through examination of topics both scriptural and topical, to live life on the edge of the Abyss – to strive to be (in C.S. Lewis’ words) “not safe, but good” – to impact our world without succumbing to it. It’s a dangerous journey, but it’s where we’ve been commanded to go…
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