Friday, June 16, 2017


You're not Jesus. 

If you read yesterday's post, this simple little fact may have struck you. Perhaps you even thought it with a bit of haughty derision. You want to live like Jesus in this world? Uh, there's just one problem with're not Him. That's a common response. If this world cannot convince you that it's foolish to live the Jesus way, it will settle for saying it's impossible.

Jesus spent a lot of time healing people. Are you going to do that? You don't know how to heal anyone. You probably never even have.

Sure, I'm going to do that. If Jesus enables me to do it. It's true that there are many stories of Jesus' healings in the Gospels, times when He gave sight to the blind, sound to the deaf, strength to the weak. And I think it's also true that there are not a lot of Christians among us who have not, at at least one point in their lives, laid hands on a sick dog, cat, lizard, bird, grandmother and wondered if this same sort of healing power would even be possible for them (and for many, it was not, but that does not keep us from trying, does it?).

But it's also true that the disciples did their fair share of healing in the power that Jesus gave them to do so. They went out in pairs and came back and reported all the amazing things they had done. The people started coming to them, too, for healing. After Jesus's ascension, Peter gains quite a reputation for being a healer, so much so that the people start wanting just to touch the things that he's touched, hoping to harness a bit of that healing power.

So it's not impossible for a man to heal, but it is possible only insofar as Jesus has given him the power to do it. Want to live like Jesus in this world? Take the power He gives you to do so and go out and live it. It is possible.

Well, Jesus performed other miracles, too. He turned water into wine. He broke a couple of loaves of bread into thousands of pieces. He filled a net with fish. Are you going to start doing stuff like that?

Sure, I'm going to do stuff like that. The nature of the miracles of Jesus was not the acts themselves, although that seems to be what most of us get hung up on. I mean, it's really cool to make wine out of water, to multiply a small bit into a lot more, to haul in a huge catch. But unless there's a need, it's really nothing more than a parlor trick.

The miracles of Jesus rest in men's need for them. The wine is a miracle because without it, the host would have suffered deep societal shame. The bread is a miracle because without it, the people would have gone hungry. The fish are a miracle because without them, the fishermen would be stripped bare themselves, nothing to show for their work.

Maybe I have never broken bread into so many pieces, at least not more than crumbs, or called fish into a net, or turned water into wine, but wherever I am breaking shame, feeding hunger, and clothing persons with dignity, I am doing the miracles of Jesus. This, He has given me the power to do.

Fine. Jesus gives you the power to heal, and you make a pretty good point about miracles. But Jesus died on a Cross, for crying out loud. You can't do that.

Technically, I can, although I confess it would be far less spectacular than the original. In fact, part of following Jesus is going to the Cross with Him. But what I can't do is make my death a sacrifice for all creation. What I can't do is use my death to redeem the world.

See? Told you so.

Not so fast. I can't sacrifice myself for all creation, and I can't redeem the world, but I don't have to. He already did.

Look, I'm not trying to be Jesus; that position has been filled. But I am trying my best to live His example in this world. When we look at the Gospels, it seems so far-fetched. It seems so difficult. It seems impractical, if not impossible, to live the way that Jesus did, but it's neither. Yes, there are some things about His life that I just can't copy, things that stem from His divine nature as the Son of God. Things like becoming an atoning sacrifice for the world.

But the vast majority of the witness of Jesus, the overwhelming testimony of those who knew Him best, is that the divine life of Jesus was deeply embedded in something very human. And this much, I can do.

It's not always easy. It's not always pretty. I don't always get it right. Sometimes, I get it painfully wrong. But I'm trying. And I refuse to believe that the Son of Man came to show us how we couldn't live. If that's the case, I've got all kinds of theological problems with the Gospels.

But that's not the case. That's not the truth. The story of Jesus is the story of God, yes, but it is also the story of man, and I'm man. I'm human. So I'm doing my best.

And that's not foolish. And that's not impractical. And that's not impossible. 

No comments:

Post a Comment