Most of my life has been lived as an insider. For 40 of my 43 years at work I was in some form of management role with access to information that was considered inside information. With only a few gaps along the way I have been involved in church leadership since my mid-twenties. So, in all the significant portions of my life outside of family I have been an insider. As I read this passage I realize that I’m not sure I know how to live as an outsider.
That’s what strikes me most about this passage. Listen to how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message:
So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. (Hebrews 13:13-15 MSG)
The insiders of Jesus day in the political world were the Roman officials and Roman officers in the military. The religious insiders were the rabbis and members of the Sanhedrin. The disciples and the crowds wanted Jesus to be the ultimate insider. They wanted to make him the King. Read John 6 to see Jesus’ response to that desire. Instead of living his adult life as an insider or pursuing being an insider, Jesus lived as an outsider. He didn’t even stay long enough in one place to become involved in the fabric of a local community.
This idea that this world is not our home has been a constant theme of Hebrews. There are days when I think it might be better to live in a mud hut in Kenya. Yet, I know it is possible to get comfortable and complacent there as well. I am challenged by the thought that I am to seek out places where I am an outsider, places where I will be abused. I struggle to get out of a warm bed in the morning. This instruction is hard. A friend of mine recently began making and serving breakfast for at risk youth in our community. He’s gone outside. I’m sure there are blessings that come from that, but I’m also certain that there’s occassional abuse. Where are you going outside? If you’re not sure, what is keeping you inside?