A man once purchased 75 weather balloons from a surplus store and attached them to a lawnchair weighted down to the bed of his truck. He packed a sandwich, a 6-pack of beer and a BB gun.
The plan was to shoot the balloons in order to stay at the ideal altitude and direction. However, the moment the ropes were cut, he shot up like a cannon.
The man did what most of us would do in that situation — he broke open a drink and decided to enjoy the ride (until he was eventually knocked unconscious).
A 737 pilot would later report an unidentified flying object about three miles up and 2.5 hours away from the launch site. A SWAT team was sent up to lasso him down. A reporter would later ask what possessed him to take such a risk?
He responded, “I wanted to see my neighborhood from a different perspective. I was tired of just sitting around.”
We all need to see our neighborhoods from a different perspective.
Recently, a Kennewick City Council member elicited a fair amount of outrage when he re-posted a meme with the words, “I went to Yakima today. Now I know why Donald Trump wants to build a wall.” The elected official then went on to add the comment to the thread, “Wait until he sees Pasco!”
Like many in our community who believe strongly that Jesus loves all of the Tri-Cities (and therefore so should we), I was troubled with such simplistic and insensitive statements.
I brought this up with a friend who is highly influential and remarkably generous toward the marginalized of our society. I was shocked by his response. He was not angry (at least in the way that I was).
He simply replied, “I’m wondering if there’s a way that we can help him. If he knew the people I know and he saw the need that I see, then he wouldn’t think or act this way.”
I was convicted of my sin. The answer wasn’t a letter to the editor or a boycott of a shopping center. The resolution was reconciliation — inviting a hurting individual into the right relationship with God and others.
The Bible reads, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish” (John 1:14, The Message).
Jesus entered the mess that we made. He didn’t pretend that the dissension didn’t exist but he did refuse to leave the conflict unresolved.
American pastor and theologian Timothy Keller proposed, “The Biblical view of things is resurrection — not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. Every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.”
Maybe it’s time for the church to do what no council can? Maybe we buy a few balloons and enter into a new neighborhood? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sitting around.
Justin Farley is a church planter and lead pastor at Blue Bridge Church located in Carmike Cinemas in Kennewick. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.