My kids have asked me more than once if they could run up the down escalator.  I usually fight off the urge to lead the way and say something quite profound and adult-ish and parent-ish, if not just a little dull-ish. As a matter of fact, the one time I lost such a battle (or was it that I won the battle), my run was promptly stopped by a camping department clerk looking as if she had just said something profound – when really, it sounded very adult-ish, parent-ish and quite dull-ish.

It finally occurred to me that, as Christians, my kids have been running up the down escalator.

When God first created, he concluded that it was good – in fact, he said that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). Just a few generations later he was ready to start all over again: “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6). A couple thousand years later, in the days of David, not much had changed: “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 53:2-3). Fast-forward another two thousand years and the apostle Paul writes of a creation, “subjected to futility…” hoping to be, “set free from its bondage to corruption…” (Romans 8:20-21).

When God first created, perhaps culture, like an up escalator, naturally approached Him.

When man first sinned – choosing to live in his own strength, his own understanding and for his own glory, perhaps the polarity of the escalator’s motor was reversed and now culture naturally moves downward away from God.

Christ warned, “The way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many… the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14). He also said of his followers, “The world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). Paul later reflected on such a life when he explained that as children of God we are, “Fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:17).

To become a Christian is not a petition for God to divinely bless our descent. To become a Christian is to follow Christ – to turn counter-culturally against the flow within us and around us toward life in ascent with God. It will be a hard Way! But, it is the Way!

Bumps and bruises, struggles and attacks, will come to those who choose against the wide and easy flow – to those who would run up the down escalator. How easy it would be to just not. How easy to go with the flow. How easy to succumb to a delusion of awaiting elevators at the bottom. But we are called to turn… to ascend… to endure… to live.

And for such a life, there is no neutral ground. To not climb is to descend with the masses. We must choose every day to live life toward God, to live against the flow of culture, to run up the down escalator.     Difficult?  You bet.      Hated?   I’m afraid so.     Suffering?  No doubt.   Glorious?   Mmmm… Yes!


In the fourth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus’ disciples come upon a curious scene. They approach Jesus at Jacob’s well just as a young Samaritan woman, to whom He has been speaking, drops her water jar and runs back to town yelling. Perplexed by the story being played out in front of them they do what any good religious person does – they prepare to eat (when in doubt… potluck). Jesus seizes the opportunity to challenge their views of reconciliation and the ministry there of: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” Now that He has their attention, He motions for them to look down and around at the physical realm to notice that it is still four months till harvest. Then He says, “Look, I tell you [I see Him here pulling His hands to His own chest], lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” 

Often, this quote is ripped from its context and preached as though these white fields are analogous to the lost world. – as if, out there somewhere is a field of lost souls innocently waving in the wind waiting for a missionary to come pluck them up and cast them into some heavenly combine where the chaff of worldliness will be miraculously – if not instantaneously – separated from the fruit of righteousness . Not only do I struggle to reconcile such a misinterpretation with the whole of scripture or the historical experience of evangelism, but John himself encases this initial teaching in a context that vehemently resists such proof-texting.

The woman, to whom Christ offered living water, did not fill her jar and run into town to peddle her wares (see 2 Corinthians 2:17). Rather, she dropped her jar and ran into town to see if there was anyone who might come with her to draw from this well of living water. And those who came, came to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. They didn’t believe because of her testimony, but because she brought them to Jesus to taste of the harvest themselves. The harvest is the Kingdom of God. And though the harvest of this physical world is relegated to seasons and temporality, Christ offers the way to a spiritual harvest now and forever.

Later when Jesus sent out his disciples “into every town and place where he himself was about to go,” he instructed them to spread the word that, “The Kingdom of God was at hand,” and reminded them that “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10). His disciples were not to harvest fields of lost souls and pray for missionaries to go with them. They were to go out before Christ proclaiming that the fields are white for harvest and seek anyone who might leave the wallow of narcissistic and apathetic rebellion to come work this harvest with them.

To believe and operate as if our primary kingdom work is to harvest lost souls is a grievous error. Our primary task is to harvest the bounty of the Kingdom – “love the Lord your God with all your heart…mind…soul…and strength.”  Then, and only then, are we able to invite others to join us in our work – “and, love your neighbor as yourself.”

In evangelism, we do not take salvation to a lost world; rather we go to bring a lost world to the Savior who grants them access to the white harvest fields of God’s Kingdom. 


I cannot imagine the anguish a parent must experience at the abduction of their child.

Though cautious of the possible pain, I would ask you to imagine the horror of having your own child kidnapped at birth.

Oh, that sinking in your bowels as the stench of panic trespasses through the hospital halls. The invading heat against your face at the betrayal of all eye contact. The deafening beat of your heart as you silently scream to hear what no one can bring themselves to whisper…“She’s… gone.”

With reckless abandon you would give all that you have and all that you are, in life or death, to pursue your lost one. Weeks, months, years – it wouldn’t matter. Any door, any shadow, every rumor; beat down, pushed back, unearthed to see her rescued… to see her home.

Now, imagine that long awaited phone call. Nearly fourteen years of dreaming and aching for this moment. You push through the pounding in your ears to hear them say it again… “We’ve found her!” You race across town toward a scribbled address elated and angry at the insanity of five thousand thirty two days of endless dusk giving way to a dawn lurking just around the corner.

Oh, the ecstasy of joy that floods your soul as you fight your way through the cameras and uniforms, nearly oblivious to the couple stooped in the back seat beneath the police lights, to sprint down that dark hallway, in hope – surreal hope – for that embrace never known and yet always missed. What joy! What irresistible joy! … for you.
But, what about for her?

Though you know the truth – that today is the day of her recue. For her it is the day of her kidnapping. Sure there is a strange familiarity as she listens to your voice tell stories of great longing and unceasing love, but this life, now so wrong, is the only life she has ever known.

It too must sound strange when a Christian tells a friend that they need to be saved – rescued. “Humble yourself.” “Surrender.” “Die to the only life you’ve ever known to live a new life with God.” But, if that friend could sit down and look through the family photos, she might catch a glimpse from God’s perspective. She might see him as Heavenly Father, who has given all that he has and all that he is to see us be rescued – to see us come home.

In the beginning, Our Heavenly Father created humanity to share in the joy of relational fellowship with him. Our first ancestors chose to do life on their own, thus sentencing each of us to the hereditary spiritual disease of sin – separation from our Father. In essence, at birth each of us are kidnapped by sin and raised as if we belonged to it. We do not! Since that first rebellion, through the overarching metanarrative of history and in the intimate grind of life, God has pursued us and, in Christ, has given all that we might be rescued.

If you struggle today in the bondage of a life apart from God – regardless of your perceived success or failure in that bondage, I pray that you might muster the courage to listen for that strange yet familiar voice of your Heavenly Father, and dare to let him bring you home.

If you rest today in fellowship with God, I pray that you might exercise a fresh and gentle kindness when helping that lost one embrace a reality they have never known… and yet… always missed.