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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)

TITLE: Locked In


For every lock that’s locked someone’s locked in, someone’s locked out. It’s always a human someone we’re trying to keep out, because we can only imagine what sort of danger the rest of humanity brings with them. It’s really the danger we want to lock out, but because our human visual and mental acuity do not have the keenest of resolution, so often mere human characteristics become the keys that turn the lock. And our sense of safety and danger turn on superficial notions of skin, nationality, ideology—all things we can readily identify from peeping our heads outside the door and quickly decide either to open the door or slam it shut, lock the other out and lock ourselves in.

Perhaps this is inescapable due to our human-ness. Perhaps this is a bondage that comes as a natural characteristic being a part of creation and other than Creator. Perhaps this is yet another feature of human existence that calls for our need for the ultimate stranger. The one that comes unexpectedly and whose coming always disrupts all our notions of safety and well-being.

Moses sought out that stranger when he heard of a bush burning in the desert, though the smoke of destruction never rose from it. Isaiah fell before that stranger whose very presence pushed him to the edge of his sense of spiritual security to exclaim the very uncleanness of his own life and people—who had been locked in from the rest of the world as crucible for forming a people dedicated to that stranger. The Israelites cried out for a familiar mediator when they arrived at the strange, quaking mountain spewing smoke, fire and lightening, where the stranger began to speak in foreign terms—words that crushed the very atmosphere of their existence.

Then came Jesus, with human skin and a human nationality. We thought he would understand and participate in our locksmithing. But he didn’t get it. He flung open the doors of our houses and let in all those we had locked out because they just didn’t measure up. When we saw him going through the corridors of other societies unlocking the safes, pouring out the contents to the locked-out of those societies we were amused, even thrilled. We couldn’t understand why the locked-in of those societies had so much trouble.

Our trouble comes when we hear the door burst wide open, and we learn that he doesn’t just mean us.

He comes with invitations like, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest” (WEB). Or “Who are my mother and my brothers?" Looking around at those who sat around him, he said, "Behold, my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother" (Mark 3:34-35 [WEB]).

As long as we believe that means us and strictly us, we’re okay. We feel safe, secure, and on our way to glory. But when we see the gangsters down the street beginning to follow, or when we see Jesus as a judge after having all the evidence against a person presented clarifying for all the world the guilt of said person, we become confused, frightened, and run down the hall to lock some doors when we hear the sentence upon the person, “I don’t condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

We don’t intentionally lock out the good ones. We only intend to lock out the bad ones, for our own protection. Eventually, though we become locked in and lean against the door with heart pounding, the sound of blood thrashing through the veins pounding against our eardrums. Then the knock at the door becomes somewhat indiscernible against all the ruckus that churns within. It’s hard, really, to know if it is Jesus at the door bringing supper. Even so, even if we come to identify the voice of that stranger, we know what we will see. We will see the one with light flashing out of his eyes and a sword coming out of his mouth calling to us, “I have the keys of Death and the Land of Death. Come follow me. We’re going to the cross to die together.” No wonder we are afraid.

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Member Comments
Member Date
david grant03/15/06
Wow! great word. Love to hear this preached from the stump. Sinners beware, be warned, and come.

Virginia Gorg03/16/06
This would be a good sermon. Preach it! :)
Jessica Schmit03/16/06
Awesome job. Great word for all of us to hear. Thanks for writing it!