A careful observer of the Gospel narratives will notice that most of the Galilean travels of Jesus took place around the famous Sea of Galilee, a big lake where one could see its other shores in the far distance.
The same shores, wherever one would turn, had their own contrasting stories. On one you’d have the Jews with their “clean”, regular religious life: synagogues, festivals, the Sabbath. That was home. On another, there are the Gadareans, in the multicultural Decapolis (ten cities), along with demoniacs, and swines — all these essentially unclean for the Jews. That would be “foreign”, “unknown”, “alternative”, a “new normal” for the Jewish population of the time. On this one shore people are crowding in towards Jesus, on that shore some are asking him to leave the region immediately. Here is the Mount of Beatitudes and poor villages, on the other side is the capital palace. There, miracles after miracles for stiff-necked saints (“woe to you Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida”). Here, a former demon-possessed man asks to follow Jesus.
No matter where one turns the compass, there are sides, clearly opposing one another.
Jesus’ story goes much along these lines: He challenged his disciples on numerous occasions to go over to “the other side” (Mark 4:35). The clearest one was a literal crossing over with the boat.
Another was when he asked Peter and the other fishermen to “put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Just to be sure that “deep water”, and fishing in daylight, and following a preacher in fishermen’s business — all meant crossing over on the other side. Of one’s mind.
Calming the storm with the power of a Creator? Walking on the sea? Isn’t that indeed, a crossing over on the other side, a paradigm of other layers and dimensions, crossing the law of physics?
Don’t miss the sailing! The sea of Galilee is the nursery, the lab where Jesus transforms the minds into growing and helping them transition from one reality (shore) to another. Try key-words in this situation like “unprecedented crisis”, “lockdown”, “Zoom meetings”, “new normal”, “phase X of tier Y”… How will one survive?
There is no real crossing over to the other side unless there is an experience with Jesus along the way. Make no mistake: all crossings will achieve nothing unless there is a cross stretched in between.
Without the cross of Jesus — where one’s paradigms need to be crucified — there is just church voyages, holy city-breaks, webinars after seminars after trainings, all facing the pleasant shore. Preaching to the choir! (Singing the same old songs.)
Let’s be equally fair: moving toward the other side is not a running away, not a dusting off your feet, not a “fleeing the cities”.
It is a call to see with new eyes. It is a push from God, simple and radical towards the exploration of a new reality. It comes with a price and a reward. (The status-quo supplies none of these.) The Apostle Paul made it clear also: conforming is a paddling pool, transforming is crossing over the storm (see Romans 12:2).
Now, you may call it war in Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, discrimination crises, hiking prices… they are all on our different shores. Run from one and you stumble into another.
The key is to mind the cross. With Jesus, all shores are home as his cross-experience connects them. And us.
Christian Salcianu is the Principal of the Adventist Discovery Centre in Watford, UK.