One is the Loneliest Number



The number 1 (above) “lies outside” a group of similar numbers, and statistically stands out as an aberration in the set; it is an “outlier.”  In this sense, it’s lonely.   If it had emotions it would be asking, “why me?”  “Why can’t I be like the others?”  “Why doesn’t anyone like me?”


Humanly speaking, when you’ve had a good run, and almost everyone who had gathered around you, supporting you for several years, turns and abandons you… you really are an outlier.  Regardless of their reasons, abandonment hurts, always has… always will.  For those reading this blog who think I might be in some selfish, agonizing, self-destructive downward spiral, I’m not talking about myself.  I’m talking about Jesus.

We tend to forget that Jesus was the original outlier.  If God had wanted to save the animal kingdom He would have come to earth as an Elephant or Tiger or some other animal.  But God created humans to have relationship with Him, and since we basically screwed it up, He had to fix it.  So God became a human, yet not subject to Sin, since His father was the Father’s Holy Spirit.  This indisputable fact is the baseline for believing Jesus was fully God, and fully human, while here on this earth.  It’s an interesting and challenging thought.

All His life, childhood through adulthood, Jesus contended with emotions just like every other human.  Yet in all the pains of these periods of life, He was perfectly aligned with Gods’ will, way, and purpose.  I believe this was to demonstrate to the hosts of humanity, that when aligned this way, we too can be empowered (by the Holy Spirit) to deal with any emotionally upheaving circumstance that comes our way.  Without Him, it’s virtually impossible.

Now, fast forward to the Passover and we understand just how different this ONE man was.  He knew ahead of time that his closest friends, the disciples, were each and every one going to abandon Him.  He told them so before it was ever true.  Yet, He loved them anyway.  He still went through with the plan of salvation.  They traipsed along to that Garden in Gethsemane, one gospel says singing songs together. [Mark 14]

The four biographies of Jesus’ life tell differently the passover/garden/betrayal story.  In John’s gospel we have a lengthy prayer from Jesus to the Father, which is not included in the other narratives.  All four of these authors describe the betrayal and abandonment by the disciples.  Jesus knew of which He spoke.  And there He stood – the One.  The outlier.

He stood alone before Caiaphas.  He stood alone before Pilate.  He stood alone before the Jewish people in the courtyard of Fort Antonia.  He stood alone while the soldiers mocked Him.  He stood alone as they scourged Him.  He was alone – the One – the outlier.

On the cross, He was the One of three who could effect change in the world.  Still the outlier.  One man knew he deserved to die the death He faced, and asked Jesus for mercy.  The other was in denial, so he mocked the One as delusional.  In a set of three, crucified for crimes against the state, Jesus was the outlier.

Why would He do it?  Why knowingly put yourself through this enormously painful existence?  God, the Son, did this to prove once and for all the extravagant lengths to which He will go, to establish right relationship with His highest creation – humans.  It was modeled for us 2,000+ years ago, and still there are those who laugh at the cross with derision.  Like the other man hanging next to Jesus that day, they say to all who believe in the One, “You guys are nuts!”

One day, either soon or far away (I do not know), this same One – this outlier – will return to planet earth to establish a kingdom that will never pass away.  In theological terms we call this the “consummation” of human history.  The last book of the Bible speaks to the events that happen during this time.  But here’s the thing.  Revelation tells the story of Jesus.  Revelation helps us see that the same kind of self-sacrificing motive that lead Jesus to the cross, is demonstrated by God in the extravagant lengths to which the Father will go, to save all those at the end of time – who will believe in the Outlier – Jesus as their savior.

The whole book, the Bible, points to Jesus.  His earthly existence was a lonely One.  He did it all to have a family, so we could all be ONE.  Praise to the Outlier.  He is our only hope and salvation!


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I Am Not An Ostrich


Ostriches get a bad rap from people who don’t understand them.  The unfounded myth is that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they’re scared or threatened.  I’ve heard it here and there since I was a kid.  When I would see an ostrich at the zoo, they’re the ones that scared me.  A full grown ostrich can be 7 to 9 feet tall, but they are aggressive, and not a friend of mine.  The truth is though, the male ostrich digs a hole (sometimes 6 to 8 feet wide, and 2 to 3 feet deep) to place the eggs when he and Mrs. Ostrich decide to have babies.  Each parent ostrich take turns getting their heads down in that hole and with their beaks rotate the eggs during the incubation period.  The illusion they create with this posture however is a great metaphor for denial.


I’ve known some well educated, sophisticated, reasonably likable people who live in constant denial of something.  Whether it’s a disease they are fighting, a relationship that’s broken, an addiction they can’t control, or some fearful circumstance of life that they simply can’t deal with… denial is an unmistakable symptom of a much larger issue.  When faced with these kinds of dilemmas many people seem to just stick their head in the sand, like the proverbial myth about the ostrich.  One might think they would search endlessly for a solution to their situation.  Yet, rather than seeking wisdom or spiritual counsel or Biblical solutions, many just pretend the thing that causes their hiding action simply doesn’t exist.

One of the hardest things a pastor/teacher does from time to time is preach or teach about lostness.  The human condition of being “lost” without Christ.  It truly isn’t a “religion” thing, it is a “relationship” thing.  The Creator knows us, He created us to have personal relationship with Him.  But Sin encroached on this relationship, creating distance and communication issues between humans and their Creator.  Since the very beginning, humans have tried lots of different ways (mystic and religious) to solve this issue because we are hard-wired in our DNA for this relationship to function properly, and when it doesn’t we know it… even if we deny it.

Regardless of how hard mankind tries to find its way back to God, every attempt falls short of what God intended.  This is why Jesus came.  To re-establish this relationship allowing for the human creature to find His way back to God.  Don’t miss this next part.

We are so far removed from this event, the Jesus event, that many people actually deny at the top of their voices that it ever even occurred.  Those who hold this view, deny their own personal need to acknowledge any god other than themselves.   They, like William Ernest Henley in Invictus, believe undeniably that:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Granted, Henley wrote this poem while recovering from an amputation due to complications of tuberculosis.  It is a tribute to that “stiff upper lip” concept of self-discipline and gut-wrenching fortitude of fighting against the odds of adversity.  Unwittingly I fear Mr. Henley has captured the essence of the attitude of many people today, who don’t feel or believe in the need for salvation.  They are the master of their own fate, the captain of their soul.  They use the creed to position themselves diametrically opposed to the teaching of Scripture.

This kind of denial is the hardest challenge to face for those of us who are believers who care about people’s eternal destiny.  Brow beaters, and Bible thumpers have tried for hundreds of years now to snap the denying souls out of their sleepy mindset to see their true “need” for God’s grace.  How has this been working so far?  I’m not in denial here, this very article might wreak to some of “brow beating” or “Bible thumping.”  It’s not my intention, however.  My point is that while we love people who are lost, whether they are friends or loved ones, we cannot make them believe in their own need to be saved.  We cannot coerce them, or chain them up until they “confess.”  Many have tried, doing more harm and damage than I fear any of us know.

So how do we reach, those who seem most unreachable, the denying masses?  What form of communication can we use to reach down into that hole where they have stuffed their spiritual head, and speak truth to them in a way which will yield a positive response?  What would God have us do?

Don’t deny the answer, for it too is denied by many, if only for its simplicity.  Love them.  Live out your love for them in such a way that you “earn” the opportunity to discuss spiritual matters.  Until you earn their trust, and keep their trust, nothing you say or do will help them get past their denial and listen to your message.  Oh, but love!  Love indeed conquers all.  When someone sees you willing to sacrifice yourself for them, like Christ did for you, then they “might” be open minded enough to listen.

Ephesians 4:15
But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, Christ.

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