This past summer, Kelly I went on a cruise for the first time as a couple. Kel had cruised once before, but this year we went with three other couples and we loved every minute of it. We’re planning another one for the future, which I wish was this week (given the snow/cold around here). I told some people about our plans for the next cruise and they advised that such-and-such cruise line had a “Christian cruise.” A few minutes later, I privately quipped to Kelly that I don’t think Jesus would go on a Christian cruise. That’s not the type of setting where he spent his time, though I’m not sure Jesus would go cruising anyway. The Apostle Paul? Certainly. He seemed to favor ships (even those about to wreck). But I digress…
When I go to the doctor, I get my blood pressure taken and sometimes it’s really good if I’m sure to not be worrying about something on the way in. In fact, my resting pulse rate can still get down to 46. Once a nurse commented, “Do you run? You have a runner’s heart.” I didn’t know how to answer. I would describe myself as a runner, yes, but how many miles I’ve run in the last 12 months can be counted on ten person’s hands. I’ve biked hundreds of miles, but running? Ehhhhh not so much.
But I want to run more. I guess I have a runner’s heart.
Where does a Christian go? If Jesus is fashioning a creative new work in our lives and he’s restoring us to what it means to be fully human (as he created humanity to be), then for what purpose? If you came looking for me as I’m “about” Christ’s work in my life, where would you find me? Where should you find me? What does a Christian do? I think I have a Christian’s heart.
But what does a Christian do? If a runner is defined by his/her running, then what regular discipline defines the Christian? Prayer? Sabbath? Charity? If I described myself as a Christian, to what practice in the last seven days would I point to that differentiates me from those who aren’t Christian? If we asked you about your faith, to what practices over the last seven days would you point to in order to support your identity?
Any of us writing this article could choose one of a handful of practices or emphases that we would point to as a primary task for the Christian to be concerned with. I have been challenged by Christ’s charity, particularly his concern for the lowly and the needy. We see it in Jesus’s ministry but it’s also evident in our sacrament of baptism. When a person is immersed “into the depths,” he/she is participating in the redemptive work of Jesus. It’s where Jesus goes to get us. It’s where he goes to be with others. Jesus gets down in the dust of people’s lives when others have thrown them down. It’s there, eye-to-eye, where he meets us and restores.
My concern is that we’ve forgotten that Jesus is in the restoration business. We’ve forgotten that he calls us to join him in that. Too many are pushing against the world, against each other, and against the very people Jesus spent time with and for whom he died.
If your doctor followed you around this week, what kind of heart would she/he find that you have? What indicators would the doctor point to for that diagnosis?