If not, consider taking a step in that direction. It’s a great place to be!
The edge of the inside.
Prophets were people in scripture with one central purpose: Keep God free for the people while keeping the people free for God.
Historically, God was made “unavailable” to the people. God was punitive—one of punishment, judgment, anger, and revenge.
As a result of that understanding, people got (and still get) caught up in guilt, shame, and legalism and truly missed the point of being at one with The Divine.
Religious leaders focused on/taught “sin management” instead of “complete relationship.”
Thus, prophets came to the scene. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, etc. They spent much of their time trying to destroy the barriers between the people, creating “a straight highway to God” (Matthew 3:3).
Later, both John the Baptist and Jesus tried to do the same thing. To free God for the people, and it got them killed.
During the final days of his life, Jesus spent much time in the Temple teaching.
Amidst healing, casting out demons, and offering forgiveness/love, he was giving it his best shot at getting people to understand they’d missed the point. That it wasn’t about keeping the rituals and the rules, it was about loving people.
The religious leaders were so angry that they asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you that authority?”
Jesus had authority because he lived on the edge of the inside.
“Prophets, by their very nature, cannot be at the center of any social structure. Rather, they are “on the edge of the inside.” They cannot be full insiders, but they cannot throw rocks from outside, either. A true prophet must be educated inside the system, knowing and living the rules, before critiquing what is non-essential or unimportant. Jesus did this masterfully (see Matthew 5:17-48). This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. taught the United States, what Gandhi taught British-occupied India, and what Nelson Mandela taught apartheid in South Africa.
Only with great respect for and understanding of the rules can a prophet know how to break those rules for a greater purpose and value properly. A prophet critiques a system by quoting its own documents, constitutions, heroes, and Scriptures against its present practice. This is their secret: systems are best unlocked from inside, not by negative or angry people.” (Richard Rohr, Way of the Prophet, Center for Action and Contemplation: 1994).
This Holy Week, each of us has a chance to live from the edge of the inside.
We have the opportunity to break the rules because we know the rules.
And if Jesus were standing beside us at the checkout line in Target, I’m 99.9999999% sure he’d say, “It’s time to break the rules because they aren’t the rule I taught to begin with.”
As Jesus finished teaching in the Temple on Tuesday of that week, they asked him what the greatest commandment was. Knowing they were trying to trick him, he answered and profoundly.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
It all boils down to Love.
It’s time to live from the edge of the inside.