I have had this blog post in mind for some time. The story of my son is a simple reminder that when we have eyes to see, we can see what is really meant for us in the Kingdom of God. However, Jesus didn't really teach us to wear our shirts right side out and the tag in the back. That was the message of the Pharisees. Jesus wouldn't disagree that keeping the law of God is the right thing to do, but what Jesus saw as the law and what the Pharisees saw as the law were world(view)s apart. The Pharisees could only see the law and the standard to live by from what was handed down for generations, since the days of Moses. Jesus understood the law, but could only see (and know) the heart of God and the intent of the law. Jesus knew that the law could never save God's people only an ultimate sacrifice could do that.
So, in many ways Jesus taught and lived out an upside down, inside out, tag-in-the-front, gospel. But Jesus didn't teach and live this gospel to be noticed or simply for the practice of being unique, innovative, or different. Jesus was interested in bringing heaven to earth. Jesus grew weary of a law-filled life that actually would result in death. The kind of life where joy is sucked from the marrow and leaves its people brittle and eventually broken, irreparable, unsalvageable. The kind of life that when brokenness and sin enter and the pretty package of life that is promised by keeping the law, disintegrates leaving law-only followers blown away like chaff by the wind.
The gospel, good news, that Jesus brought, though new in approach and rhetoric in His day, lasts! It creates a saving surge throughout the body giving hope, joy, and LIFE! His gospel is the heart of God. Where the law does not dissipate, but rather grows with deeper roots into the very nature of God. The law become fulfilled through Christ and no longer does the law become the THING, but Jesus does. We see God's heart through Christ. We see that what God intended through the law is that His people would live upside down, inside out compared to those who live for the broken world. Some believe that this means we must excavate ourselves from culture and live in gated isolation so that we aren't corrupted by the culture that invades our perfect Christian world. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the Pharisees in scripture were after. That was not Jesus' quest. Remember he was the one who touched lepers, cast out demons in a graveyard, "worked" on the sabbath, called a tax collector to be his apostle, and often ate in the homes of tax collectors and sinners. Jesus did not absolve himself from culture, but in reality immersed himself in the culture without changing who He was in God.
If we want to live the gospel. We will be better off immersing ourself in culture and entering into relationships with people in our world. When we choose this path we must keep our center, our core, strong. Our relationship with Jesus will be tested and we must keep it first. Then as we meet people, establish relationships, eat at their tables, God will use our stories and His gospel that is living in us to show a new path. We must remember it is not our responsibility to manipulate an outcome for God. We will be light bearers and God will take care of the rest. Those that don't know Christ or have given up on him will appreciate our time, our words, our life that we are sharing with them. It is those who stand on piety, law, and isolation that might attack our actions and maybe even our motive. If so, then we are in good company. And yes we will wake up in the morning and everyone will look and only see that we have put on our shirt inside out with the tag in the front. But Jesus will see a follower, The Spirit will see thin space, and God will see a kingdom-meeting-earth-with-a-sweet-kiss moment.
Who knows, maybe one day I will stand in the pulpit with my shirt inside out and tag in the front.