We live in divisive political times with a future uncertain, tired of the combats on both sides. In these days of trouble, it is especially comforting to reflect on Jesus’ life anew finding deeper answers. If there is a phrase that comes most readily to mind when I contemplate Jesus, it would be “other-worldly.”
He headed a heavenly kingdom notof this world. He offered not four year plans or abstract theories to solve the problems of the moment, but gave us answers for eternity: the bread of life, the manna of his being, the living water that we can return to again and again. He gave us not peace forged by treaties, but his very presence that fills and nourishes.
He did not need theories and quantitative measurements to prove the effectiveness of His mission. The results of Jesus’ ministry could easily be seen. His impact was immediate, intimate and personal. One can imagine the face of joy on the blind man who was healed, or of the prostitute who was freed from her fate of stoning by a crowd. One could see and indeed, feel the energy He created and exuded by the force of His personality. He was a true soul toucher.
Whereas before, during His ministry, He spoke in gentle or challenging voices, at the cross He shouted in silence making His final appeal. He gave us not a formal academic argument as a closing, but the gift of His extreme example.
In this world, while we may continue to dream of ideal states of liberty or universal well-being to satisfy our outer needs, both of which may have their place, He answered an inner need: our yearning for a friend who will love us not just one day, but for eternity. Though skeptics and foes may have dismissed his life as in vain, He accomplished much in the eyes of those who had the heart to see and hear what He had to offer. He did not rid the world of poverty, but filled us with treasures of the spirit. He did not clean the Roman empire of its corruption, but cleaned us with grace. He did not seek followers to rally up one group of people against another group in contest, but cast His net for the whole world.
Today we call Him a savior, yet perhaps it is more apt to see Him as someone who set a process in motion. He did not see Himself as curing all alone, as people may perceive and want a politician to do with compromises or a thinker to do with some grand theory. Instead, He passed on His mission to others of common vision and moral resolve. If He showed us anything, it is what a single individual can do no matter what troubles befall us or how history changes.
Jesus stands as a useful contrast, yet the experience of Christ is different for each one us. Just in contemplating scripture in Sunday school, alone with our Bible or through a situation, scenes from His life come to mind that we find meaningful and instructive. The image that comes to my mind is a Jesus dressed in white, shining in the darkness, undefeated by the presence of evil.
I confess that I have no immediate answer to our present maladies, but in my life I have met many other lights, many people who remind me of Jesus in their words and deeds, carrying an other-worldly quality about them. They ignited a spark in me, inspiring me in my own travels. Though I don’t shine pure all the time, being flawed, I believe that some of the best answers come not always from powers above, but within each one of us. Perhaps that is the beauty of love, that we can impact and influence each other. Yes, it is easy to feel defeated in the midst of things, but maybe if each of us shines, each in our own small way, we can light up our present night.