When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go across to the other side." Mark 4:35
It is one thing to go; it is an altogether different thing to go “to the other side.” Until now, being with Jesus had been a relatively safe adventure traveling around the neighborhood of Galilee. That is about to change. “Let’s go over there,” Jesus suggests to his friends, pointing across the lake.
The problem with “over there” was the kind of people that lived “over there.” In the first century the Sea of Galilee was a natural divide between the Jews who lived on one side and the non-Jews who lived on the other. In other words, the people “over there” were people that did not believe, act, or worship like the people with Jesus. It is no wonder they were afraid. It is always safer to stay on our side, whether it is our side of a lake, or the railroad tracks, or the neighborhood, or the church. Jesus called his friends into the boat to go over there and he calls us to do the same.
Two years ago I led a group of teenagers to Terrier Rouge, Haiti. Many of them had never traveled to another country. One morning we set up a make-shift assembly line and packed four hundred bags of rice, dried fish, noodles and oil. Each bag held enough food for a Haitian family to eat for a week. We loaded it on a truck, bounced across the plains of northern Haiti to three isolated villages to hand it out. When we arrived at the first village, people were already waiting. The blind and lame went first, then the widows, then others. The bags holding the food were very flimsy, so much so, that they would often break or puncture spilling rice onto the ground.
After all the bags had been passed out, and we had begun to pack up, a Haitian girl who had been standing by, knelt down and began to sweep up the leftover grains of rice with her hands. Everyone froze. Without prompting, two of our girls knelt down beside her and began to help her. Not one grain of rice was left behind. Before she left the Haitian girl thanked us, cradling her rice as if it was gold. One girl commented, “I never knew a grain of rice was worth so much.” For me, when those girls knelt down in the dirt to help gather rice, they went to the other side. In so doing, they took their place beside Jesus to be about his work of healing and restoration.
Where is the “other side” for you? Maybe it is as far away as a trip to another country, or maybe it is as near as the person on the other side of the room you are in right now. It may be to feed the hungry; it may be to simply say, “I’m sorry.” Wherever it is, “over there” is in a direction that is scary and risky. However, it is also the direction where you most fully join Jesus in the healing of God’s world.