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Living on the Edge


Are you living on the edge?  Perhaps it is a question you’ve been asked or are familiar with.  But I assure you this has nothing to do with X-games, skydiving, mountain climbing, or thrill seeking.  The image comes from Crystal Downing’s book Changing Signs of Truth.  Here is what she shares:

I want you to imagine a coin—let’s use a quarter—standing on edge.  Both sides are covered with signs.  The dominant sign on one side—an image of George Washington’s head, complete with pigtail—has lasted since 1932 when designed by John Flanagan, who put an eagle on the reverse side. Change came, however, in 1999 when the U.S. Mint began to release quarters commemorating the fifty states of the union.  Instead of the eagle, an image significant to a particular state or territory appears.

Now, imagine yourself shrunk down to the size of an ant, standing on the fluted edge between the left side and the right side.  This is the position of (re)signing truth: resigned (surrendered) to the headship of Jesus Christ, you maintain trust in the sign to the right, where the words ‘In God We Trust’ still appear.  But your position on the edge also enables you to look to the left, where you can enjoy and celebrate the re-signing of the coin.  Just as each state of the union determines its own sign on the quarter, so each new era or state of culture determines new signs for the faith. Pg 57

In so many ways this re-signing of the truth is what got Jesus in trouble.  One of Jesus’ favorite teaching expressions was, “You have heard that it was said…. But I say to you…” Matthew 5:38-39 for example.  This is like changing the image on the ‘state’ side of the quarter while still remaining true to the image on the other side, in this case the law.

Are you standing on the edge?  This is the challenge the followers of Jesus face today.  How do we not lose sight of the faithful image of the invisible God while also adjusting to the re-signing of those things that point to Jesus?

Another example that Downing lifts up includes tattoos.  For many 1 Corinthians 6:19 has been a prohibition against tattoos—lest we dishonor the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit.’  Yet, I have many friends who proudly have cross tattoos, biblical figures depicted in body art, even those who have tattoos on their ring finger in place of a wedding band—think of the permanent nature of vows and tattoos.  In doing this, many would argue that these folks have disobeyed 1 Corinthians 6:19.  But what of the very next verse?  “For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” Pg 26  For those with such tattoos, has their body not become a part of their discipleship and a constant reminder of glorifying God with their body?

I challenge myself—and you as well—to live on the edge in faith.  Be on the look out for the re-signing of things that point to Jesus from a different angle.  Because the reality is this:  Jesus is both the sign and the one to whom the signs point.  He is the unchanging Truth—and yet He constantly translates the truth of His presence into the ways that we are able to hear, see, taste, smell, and touch.  Some of those ways are consistent, but the Person of Jesus is also on the move in this world.  I hope we can find a way to live on the edge so that we can see both sides of the coin.

Here is a link to downing’s book if you are interested:

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