The Way and the Goal

Across nearly 38 years of ministry, I have never seen, both inside and outside the church, more restless seeking than I see just now.  People are on a quest for something, for someone, higher, holier and more beautiful than they have yet encountered.  

They—we—are looking for bedrock truth on which to build a stable life, a life that doesn’t crumble in crisis.

We want reasons to live that are more meaningful than being consumed by consumption; we don’t want our lives to be little more than decades of earning and spending, working and worrying, climbing the ladder or failing to climb it. 

We’re searching for ways to make a difference in our troubled world, to overcome the temptations of apathy and indifference, and to leave things better than we found them. 

Most of all, we’re yearning for acceptance and love—to be known, understood, and welcomed.

The best response I have to all this seeking, questing, searching, and yearning is Jesus.  From my own experience, I know him to be the bright star which rises in a dark night. He is the way and the goal of the journey.  He’s the road to home and home itself. 

God’s glory shines from Jesus’ human face. God’s wonder pulses in the story of his life, death, and resurrection. God’s compassion touches us in his mercy; and God’s forgiveness restores us in his grace.  Jesus reveals love to be the heart of God’s heart, and he calls us to live for nothing less and nothing other than love: love for God, love for neighbor, and love for self.  

Jesus welcomes all of us. He cherishes every one of us.  He knows us, understands us, and loves us.  And, he transforms us into people who can know, understand, love and embrace one another.

Jesus doesn’t need for me to judge people. In fact, he forbids me to do it, because he knows that I don’t know enough about anyone else’s strengths and struggles, limits and possibilities, hurts and hopes to judge what they’ve done or failed to do. 

Besides, I’ve got more than enough to do, tending to my own shortcomings and weaknesses.

Jesus doesn’t ask me to fix or change other people either. As a friend of Anne Lamott’s said to her: “Three things I cannot change are the past, the truth, and you.”  (Help, Thanks, Wow, 31).  I’m not capable of converting, changing, or transforming another person.  That’s the work of the Spirit, not my work, and the Spirit knows how people are wired-up. what’s good and right from them and what God wants for them.  That knowledge is too vast and intricate for me.  It’s way above my security clearance.

I’m free simply to love people as much like Jesus loves them as I can, to tell them what Jesus means to me, and to leave the rest—whatever the “rest” will or won’t be--to him and to them.