The first employer I worked with after University had a primary selection criteria that they labelled the “helicopter quality”. It’s the ability, while immersed in the details, to helicopter above them and bring a broader perspective and understanding to the current state of play.
I was talking to Molly about ‘the helicopter quality’ a few days back after being a mean father and depriving her of something she so desperately wanted. It doesn’t serve you well to drag a helicopter into the mix when you’re negotiating with a nine-year-old – it has the potential to get messy – but when the moment had passed, we got talking.
The “helicopter quality” doesn’t change the reality of the details, it’s an ability to bring bigger eyes, wider vision and fresh perspective to a situation – no matter how stratospheric or catastrophic.
I found myself talking about the “helicopter quality” again this morning, only this time in the context of a Presidential election.
Molly was bewildered, along with our four-year-old, that the mean and rude man still won.
In my brief forays into social media following an election result that would make a pollster seek alternate career opportunities, it seemed that the sky had fallen and all hope was lost.
To be sure, this is not a time to get lost in the clouds, it’s a time to continue to, or begin to, build your hope on things eternal, not transient. It’s a time – like any other – to follow Him with our head, hearts, and hands, but also to understand that the causes about which we are passionate, the results we crave, the stock market tickers that devastate or comfort us, the things of this world, these are temporary. Just a vapour.
Does all this make the world rosy today? Hell, no. The world can be feral, offensive, bewildering, arrogant, rude and boastful.
Yet it’s this world into which God sent His only Son. One that was every bit as corrupt, misogynistic, nativist, authoritarian, racist, cruel and offensive as the one in which we live – every bit as oppressive towards those on the periphery.
Jesus stoops down into our world and, by word and deed, demonstrates a deep concern for the details while always pulling focus (and bringing into focus) the values of an eternal kingdom in the midst of the muck and the mire. And in a similar political milieu that we face to day.
Should we care about the details? Enormously so. Should we be moved to act against in the face of oppression, injustice, greed and gracelessness? That’s not just a reasonable response; it’s imperative in this currency of the Kingdom of which we are citizens.
The irretrievability of our plight took Jesus to the cross. Not out of prideful arrogance or a hunger for world domination, but out of humility and grace towards each image bearer of God, the Father. All of us, that is, the lovely and unlovely. The vanquished and the victorious, the hopeless and the hopeful. He went to the cross not because it was an easy career path – He went to the cross to become ruined glory so that we might be raised back to new life and get a growing glimpse at a new kingdom free of imperfections: a new Jerusalem, a new Eden. A life that can look further and see something blimmin’ spectacular in the face of seemingly disastrous details. Details like your horse of choice going down in the homestretch of the presidential race.
The door Jesus opens, is open for all to enter who will come. It opens up to a bigger, larger, eternally hopeful story. A narrative that sees us as details of immense worth; worthy of inclusion.
The cross was the enormous detail that Jesus took care of for the joy of His Father and His Kingdom. And for you and me.
Jesus’ Kingdom-reign is perfect. There is no two-term minimum; it is unchanging and everlasting. It knows no end. It is this Kingdom into which those who have been plunged into His death belong. It is into this Kingdom that those who call Him ‘Lord’ have been resurrected.
Bono penned the briefest of verse which became song a few decades back:
October, and the trees are stripped bare of all they wear, what do I care? October, kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall, but you go on and on.
October is a helicopter song about a reign and rule that is beyond seasons, circumstance, and presidents. it points steadfastly to a perfect King amidst the flux of all else. A King with a CV that is without spot, wrinkle or blemish.
In all this, the King of the Kingdom is not careless about the details of the intervening kingdom. He is passionately attentive to the affairs of man. When men and women operate in word and deed contrary to the values of God’s Kingdom, the grief has a depth that can only ever find its response at the cross.
God raised Jesus back to life to open the door to new citizens in this Kingdom of the redeemed. A Kingdom that has reconciled its citizens through the Lamb of God that carries away the sin of the world.
He calls us to care about injustice and un-love because He does. He invites us to helicopter to a now and not yet Kingdom where Jesus is Lord, and all power and authority are his by the details that were atoned for at the cross.
Don’t lose hope. Don’t hang your head low. Lift your eyes higher still to the heavenly reign and rule that is without end.