Several years ago, I was on the "red eye" flight from Seattle to Austin. Most of us were sound asleep when we awoke to the feel of the jetliner shaking and shuddering. The pilot came on the speaker and told us not to be alarmed — yeah right — and proceeded to tell us that we were caught in wind shear. (Wind shear can be described as masses of circulating air coming together and causing violently swift air currents and sometimes turbulence.) Our pilot then proceeded to tell us that this wind shear was making the plane fly faster than it was designed to go. As you can imagine, this didn't put many folks at ease.

Then the real punch line came. He warned us that it would feel like we were free-falling, but that he was simply dropping the altitude quickly to get us out of this wind current and back to a more desirable speed. After a few seconds of our stomachs being in our throats, the plane quit shuddering, and we resumed our flight without other distractions, as if nothing had happened — although I'm not sure anyone went back to sleep. In this case, "The Shear" was a dangerous place for us and made our flight much more "exciting" than we wanted.

Recently, I've returned from a fishing trip in Alaska. With the combined flows of glacial run off, strong ocean currents, flowing streams, and radical tides, the bay waters are full of shearing currents. While these shearing currents can be dangerous to swimmers and small boats, "The Shear" of these currents is rich in nutrients and small organisms where bait fish and other food sources can be found. These are also the places where big fish and whales hang out looking for easy meals. In this case, "The Shear" was an exciting place for us to be.

We often face the effects of "The Shear" in our walk with Jesus. Jesus spent much of his time in "The Shear" himself. His example helps us answer a crucial question that naturally arises as we try to live out "The Jesus Vibe": What happens when our core values appear to collide ... maybe even conflict ... or at least seem to not connect? What do we do then? What does "The Jesus Vibe" call us to do in "The Shear" of these two strong currents in our lives?

Over the last few weeks, we've seen that "The Jesus Vibe" is built on Jesus' great commands:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments"
(Matthew 22:34-40 TNIV).

Jesus showed us — not once ... not even a few times, but again and again and again — how to live in "The Shear." Go back and read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) looking for how Jesus handles "The Shear." Look for Jesus' Sabbath controversies as he wrestles with the religious leaders of his day — Jesus sees the Sabbath as a day created to bless humans while honoring God and basically disregards all the traditions that had crept in to make the Sabbath a legalistic mine field for those wanting to honor God (Matthew 12:1-14;  Mark 2:23-3:6). Notice how he values people above traditions and interpretations of the Law — the classic examples are the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery (John 4:1-42;  John 7:53-8:11). See how he eats with sinners and praises those outside the religious establishment (Matthew 8:5-13;  Matthew 9:9-13;  Matthew 15:21-28).

While not exactly direct violations of the Old Testament Law, forgiving sins, healing on the Sabbath, touching lepers, associating with people and genders not socially acceptable were all considered to be violations of the Law in the minds of most religious leaders of Jesus' day. They were also all part of Jesus' regular practice that drove the religious powerbrokers to vengeful madness. But, Christ saw beyond the legalistic traditions surrounding the Law to the heart of God. He then lived out the intentions of God himself — reconciling all people back to the Father while seeking to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Jesus lived in "The Shear." For the Lord, "The Shear" was exciting both as a dangerous place and a place rich with opportunity. It was dangerous, because it put Jesus in the swift currents of religious controversy that quickly led him into direct conflict with the religious establishment and its traditions, rules, interpretations, and constituencies. However, it was also rich with opportunity because "The Shear" was where so many people seeking God were found. These were seekers who felt a hunger for God, but also felt isolated from him by the details, traditions, rules, and hypocrisies of religion as it was practiced in their day.

Jesus socialized with these folks in the face of the consequences. He didn't come to please the religious powerbrokers, the masses, or even his own followers. Jesus didn't come to be served, but to serve and redeem folks trapped in darkness, slavery to sin, and hamstrung by religion (Mark 10:45).

Jesus was killed on a cross for this passion to live in "The Shear." The Lord's parting comments — which we call "The Great Commission" — call us to live in that same shear. We're to cross over our secure social lines into other cultures: not just to evangelize, but to incarnate the message of Jesus by living alongside them in their world, baptizing them into the family of the Kingdom, and then staying with them through the process of learning to live "The Jesus Vibe" in their own culture (Matthew 28:18-20).

Jesus calls this lifestyle in "The Shear" the Kingdom of God. He called it being children of our Father in heaven. And, most importantly for us, Jesus called us to continue his passion for living in dangerous and rich currents we'll call "The Shear"!

So, if you find yourself frustrated with religion, remember the basics of "The Jesus Vibe":

  • Love God with everything you are, have, and hope
  • Love your neighbor as you do yourself
  • Love in such a way you enter "The Shear" to live like Jesus with folks who don't yet know him

Jesus calls this lifestyle in "The Shear" the Kingdom of God.

Why is it so hard for those of us so steeped in the Christian faith to live in "The Shear"?

Why do those who Jesus reached seem so turned off by Jesus' followers today?

What do you need to do to live more fully in "The Shear" rather than in the shadow and security of church folks?

What are some parables of Jesus or actions of Jesus that teach us about how to live in "The Shear"?

I'd love to get your input on my blog. Share your response as we all try to live in "The Shear" with Jesus: