To Be Pilate (and on being published)

Yesterday, the Tennessean published my first major writing feature.  Did you see it?

The excitement of that accomplishment, coupled with the dwindling days left as a teacher will make this, the week leading up to Easter, a difficult one.

I’ve been filled with anticipation waiting for this article to hit the stacks.  The hard work that went into it, the sweet family who opened up their hearts to let me tell their story, and what it may mean for my future as a writer, are just a few reasons that waking up Sunday morning was easier than usual.

Surprisingly, at church, the pastor didn’t stop announce my big break to the congregation.  Instead, his sermon (which you can listen to here) was about Pontius Pilate, the governor who decided Jesus’ fate this week 2,000 years ago.  The man who sent Jesus to the cross.  A man who based his identity on his accomplishments, possessions, and popularity among the people.  That’s why when the people began yelling at Pilate “crucify him!” he was filled with fear.  He was afraid he was about to lose his fame among the people.  He was afraid he was losing his identity.

Don’t we do the same?   Maybe I should speak for myself.  I know I do the same. 

Moving into a new career is a particularly easy time to base my identity on fickle things like pride, possessions, and popularity.  Take my resume for example.  What I’ve accomplished is what will get me hired, right?  Leaving a job also stimulates unfounded fears about our finances.  What we have surely can’t be enough.  Writing this blog opens the door to all kinds of narcissism.  Do you like me?  Do you really like me?  In the end, I’m just like Pilate, constantly painting a picture I want others to admire.

The only cure for this kind of self-centered delusion is Jesus, the one who told Pilate the truth.  Any power he had, was from above — not from his accomplishments, or from the people who held him in high regard.  That knowledge could have freed Pilate from his life of fear. 

It can set us free, too.  As it turns out, you don’t need wealth, approval, and accomplishments to change the world.  Jesus was shunned by the world He created,  but still managed to change and redeem it forever. 

What could that kind of power do in you and in me?  Forsaking our smaller desires for Jesus, could we change the world too?