How a Palm Sunday play changed me

What if you’re right? He was just another nice guy.
What if You’re right?

What if it’s true? They say the cross will only make a fool of you.
What if it’s true?

What if He takes His place in history with all the prophets and the kings
who taught us love and came in peace, but then the story ends?

What then?

What If, Nichole Nordeman

I didn’t expect the play to change me, but it did.

Back in January, the drama team at my church decided on a Palm Sunday play.  We read through the script, and our director assigned parts.

I got the part of a kind of character I have never played before.  I was eager at first.  I thought it would be an exciting change.

And then it hit me.  I was really going to be playing the part of an adulterating drug addict–pregnant with another man’s child.

What exactly were people going to think of me?  Would anyone maybe get confused and think I was this woman?  What was the audience going to think about my character?  I’d be judged for sure.  What kind of words would they think about my character as they watched?  Worthless?  Stupid?  Filthy?  Trash?

I began to worry.  I strategized how I could prove to everyone that this wasn’t me, and then my common sense took over and I realized nobody would think that, just because I was playing a character, I was that person . . . I hope.  After all, I played the part of an eighty-year-old woman once, and nobody thought that was really who I was.

And then . .

I started thinking about this girl I was playing.

Why is it so easy to hate her?  Why is it so easy to make fun of her?

At first glance, the answer seems easy.  She’s a pregnant drug addict.  It doesn’t get much worse than that.  She doesn’t change (at least not during the play).  She steals a widow’s wedding rings.  And, of course, she cheats on her husband.  So why wouldn’t it be easy to hate her?  Why wouldn’t it be easy to make fun of her?

But, when I reflect on it, the answer seems very hard.

Why is it that we can so easily dismiss some sins and scarcely ever dismiss others?  Why is it so easy for me to forgive some sins in my own life–like little lies, gossiping, hateful thoughts, carelessly cruel comments–and so hard for me to forgive other sins–like a drug-addict who could permanently damage her unborn child?  Is there really a stairway of sins, and the bottom stair leads to Hell, but the top stair really isn’t so bad?

But I feel a sort of happiness about condemning someone else.  I like the stairway system.  It makes my sin seems so trite.  After all, what is a little ‘white lie’ compared to a child’s brain damage caused by the meth?  What’s a bit of gossip compared to a rapist, or a vengeful daydream compared to a serial killer?  I can’t be so bad compared to that, can I?

Maybe the safest way to Hell is when Satan keeps us on the ‘top stair’.

Maybe it’s when we look down on others, create a ‘hierarchy of sin’, point the finger of condemnation.

What if you dig way down deeper than your simple-minded friends?
What if you dig?

What if you find a thousand more unanswered questions down inside?

That’s all you find?

What if you pick apart the logic and begin poke the holes?
What if the crown of thorns is no more than folklore that must be told and re-told, and re-told?

What If, Nichole Nordeman

And I realized.

There is no stairway to Hell.

It’s a pit.

We fall in.

We all fall in–all of us except Jesus.

. . . What if that was the story we told?

Are we afraid?

Afraid of who will come in?

If they really knew . . . that we were all in the pit together?

That they weren’t lower than us?

But what if you’re wrong? What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you’ve never dreamed of hoping for?
What if You jump? Just close your eyes.
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What If, Nichole Nordeman

What if the worst sin we can commit against another person isn’t anything we do to their body or their mind . . .

What if it’s what we do to their soul?

What if it’s blocking people from getting past us on our so-called stair so they can enter Heaven?

What if the reason people killed Jesus . . was because they knew He was making a way for everyone to enter Heaven?

Including the people blocking the way?

What if?

He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.

 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:3-6, NLT)