I've read several books lately where the text aims to tell the reader about Jesus. I have found them hollow and severely lacking, although I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. After some time to reflect, and life as we know it, I think my trouble is this: each of these books devoted almost the entirety of its pages to telling the facts of Jesus, then at the end, an emphatic, "How can you not believe?"
We have put a lot of emphasis on telling the story of Jesus. We are pretty good at laying down the facts. But is that really convincing? "God created the world. The world turned against Him. He knit together this marvelous master plan by which He redeems the world, so at just the right time, a Man was born of a virgin, and He was God's Son, and He lived and then died. Three days later, He rose from the grave." Isn't your life changed?
Of course not. When we tell the story of Jesus through the facts, we lead a man to believe in the Son of God the same way he believes in Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler. He may believe in history, but it doesn't change his future. Caesar...does not affect a man's daily life. Alexander? Nope. Hitler? Not even him. Santa Claus doesn't change the way I live...any more. Just believing that someone existed doesn't change a life. There has to be something more.
To figure out what that is, I had to take a hard look at my own life. I am a woman who needs to make some changes, who is making changes, and who has made changes. Jesus has certainly changed my life, and He continues to do so every day, but there is still a part of me that some days simply believes in Him as a historical figure, and I feel disconnected. It's not enough to say Jesus lived. It's not enough, even, to say He lives.
For me, I think it's a matter of that He loves.
Every single significant and/or lasting change I have made in my life has come because someone, sometimes God Himself, held up a mirror of Jesus in which I could see my imperfect flesh reflected, and I have been inspired to be more. I have dared to be more. I have hoped, and then believed, that there was more for me. In Him. It is the image of Christ staring back at me that moves me.
It's actually a very delicate process and a subtle shift takes place. You begin by looking in the mirror and seeing yourself reflected in Christ. You see what perfect flesh looks like, and it inspires you to be a better man. Through the very image you were created in, you see what you were created to be and you can't help but go after it. Christ is the image for all of us in this sense. He was given to us as an example, and it is by looking at Him that we see our own measure. We find the places we can grow.
At some point, however, the subtle shift happens and what we start looking for is no longer ourselves reflected in Christ, but Christ reflected in us. We look for the ways in which our love, our compassion, our service, our words, our deeds, our faith, our flesh are the presence of God in our world. We long to look in the mirror and see Him in us because that means that maybe someone else can, too.
This is what really changes a man's life - to see himself in Christ, and to see Christ in himself. This is the kind of intimate relationship that has to manifest for Christ to mean anything. You can't get that through a historical narrative; you can only get that through the mirror of the Man of God. You can only get that when you dare to look into Him. When you understand who He is - not as a portrait, but as a presence.
We spend so much of our time trying to get people to understand the historical Jesus. Maybe that's just the easiest way we know to tell the story. Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts. But the facts have never changed a single life. The facts have never healed a single heart. The facts have never inspired a man to be more than he thinks he is. It's always the personal touch that makes the difference.
It sounds hard to do. How can you be responsible for bringing another man to the mirror? The cool thing is: you're not. You're not responsible for that. The cool thing is that all you really have to do...is come to the mirror yourself. Come, discover who you are reflected in Christ. Contemplate your measure. Make changes. Grow. Slowly, but surely, over time, you will come to find that Christ is reflected in you.
And when Christ is reflected in you, you bring another man to the mirror. He wants to see what you have seen, and then - and only then - you may show him.