My flight into D.C. arrived at 4:50 which meant that the metro train was packed. I barely got through the door with my backpack and small carry-on. It’s the only time in life when it’s okay to rub shoulders and violate the personal spaces of random strangers without making them furious or irritated. The doors closed. We squished closer together.
As the train jerked forward, I reached up to grab the metal pole above my head, and I think I accidentally grazed the butt of the businessman in front of me. “Sorry Mr. Businessman that I’ve never met or seen before,” I thought to myself figuring that it would be better not to say anything and instead act like it didn’t happen. I even started looking around to make sure that I didn’t make accidental eye contact — then it would have been awkward for sure.
As I looked around the packed train, smelled the slight musty air of underground transportation, and felt the cold metal bar between my fingers a question popped into my head, “How does Jesus fit into this?” I was surrounded by people of all ages, hair colors, races, and success levels. There were businessmen, businesswomen, military officers, librarians, bankers, and probably some people that don’t have jobs but still dress the part. All of these people have lives, make money, and are on their way home to their families or roommates.
In a way, they are all the same, but I can also see obvious differences. Many of the people are reading books, and so far I haven’t seen two books that are the same. Almost all of the travelers have headphones, and I bet if we could hear what they are listening to it would be pretty diverse as well.
“How does Jesus fit into these people’s lives?” Our culture is so different from Jesus’ time. They didn’t have iPods, books, suits, and metros. There were no high rise office buildings or airplanes or credit cards. The questions kept flowing, “Was Jesus’ culture busy in the fast-paced American sense of busy?” “Did businesspeople and entrepreneurs exist?” “I know money is mentioned, but was it as important as it is today?”
As we continued to stop and start people filed out, and more people crammed into the small car. Stop after stop it was the same thing just on different sides of the train (our lives feel like this sometimes — don’t they?). The people standing drifted to the left when we went around a right-hand-curve and they drifted to the right when we went around a left-hand-curve. Our heads bobbed up and down with each bounce, and everyone was quiet and focussed on whatever media device they had in their hands. Finally, the train broke out of the darkness of the tunnel and came out into the sunlight. Like a breath of fresh air, the light poured through the windows and almost at once everyone exhaled and looked up. It was pretty funny actually — it was almost as if all of these working people saw sunlight in this part of the city as freedom.
I got off the train at the next stop and was overjoyed to step out into the fresh cool air. As I walked up the street to my friend’s house, my questions faded for the moment. I saw a dad hitting a plastic ball with his kids in the backyard, and I smiled thinking about my own boys waiting anxiously for me to get home in a couple of days. I thought about my own backyard and the swing set that takes up most of it. I thought about my house and the feeling of relief I have when I finally walk through the front door. “Oh how I long to walk through my front door!”
I share this with you to let you know that I haven’t got all of this stuff figured out yet. One of the reasons I started 10 Days Without was to try and figure out how Jesus’ teachings fit into every day life in western culture. I really think that issues like poverty, human trafficking and slavery, stewardship of the Earth, helping people affected by disabilities etc… are important to God. I think he wants us to make a difference in those issues, to help others and bring him glory. And I think we are all called to be a part of the story of redemption for the world.
But that being said, I still think it’s hard sometimes when we think about how different our culture is from Jesus’ time — to see the connection, to know how Jesus’ fits with here, now, today. What do you think? Do you ever wonder how Jesus fits into our culture today? You may comment below…