It’s like I’m meeting him all over again.
Jesus, I mean.
Sometimes my view of Jesus gets too comfortable. Too 2nd-grade-Sunday-School-felt-board-cut-out-ish. The women (including the prostitutes he loved to hang with) are all dressed in modest long and flowing robes. He smells good, not like a man who had no place to lay his head. Even his most dramatic accusations towards the pharisees come off as a monotone “you brood of vipers yada yada yada yada yada” in my head.
But a new encounter is shaking me up and reminding me of why I love him so much.
And let me tell you, it isn’t because his ministry focus was on a woman’s hemline or the color of the sanctuary carpet. It isn’t because he traveled to the ends of the earth discussing whether sprinkling or dunking would get you into heaven or if communion should be every Sunday or once a quarter.
Do you ever stop to ask yourself, “What have we done!?”
My Bible Study – AKA the first church organized women’s group I’ve been a part of that crosses denominational lines, sticks together through multiple studies, and really does life together… in short, sheer awesomeness – is going through the book of Luke with nothing but a Bible and a journal. Some of the ladies are serious scholars, breaking out all sort of nifty study tools to dig deeper into the word. (And their diligence blesses the socks off me as they share what they’ve learned.) Me? Usually I just try to really read it. Which, let me tell you, is something for someone who grew up with the scriptures and has a bad habit of skimming even new material.
And like I said, this journey through Luke is reminding me of why I love Jesus so much… and convicting me about how I sometimes make him look.
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
So the other night when we were leaving an electronics store just before closing, a woman approached us asking for some money to buy gas. Granted we gave it to her, but as we drove off we both looked back and saw her heading to another car to ask for more. Immediately our hearts hardened towards her a bit and we both felt a little irritated at parting with $10 when we had “proof” she was “taking advantage of us.” While I might have looked compassionate on the outside, in my heart I was not “lending without expecting to be repaid” and if she could have seen inside my heart, she wouldn’t have seen someone who was being “kind to those who are unthankful.”
It’s a little ironic… sometimes I feel all this righteous indignation towards the way that other members of my faith community make Jesus look when they call for things like bombing the Middle East to smithereens. Love your enemies, people! I want to shout. But turns out I’m not even that great at loving the woman in the parking lot of Fry’s.
But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
I’m pretty sure most days will find me thinking I am righteous. And I’m also pretty sure that’s not really the “side” Jesus wants me to be on. That’s all I’ve gotta say about that.