Amid all the Christmas gift-buying and holiday party-going, there may be a moment or two when some people who don’t think much about Jesus will wonder about him.
Brilliant and troubled writer David Foster Wallace once asked: “Does this guy Jesus Christ have something to teach me even if I don’t, or can’t, believe he was divine?”
Of course. It’s possible for anyone—everyone--to be inspired, as Gandhi was, by Jesus’ example and guided by his wisdom. A lot of people who don’t believe Jesus was somehow uniquely related to God delight in his stories and find his dreams of a more just and peaceful world compelling.
I think it’s really important for Christians to be clear that Jesus does not belong to us.
We belong to him, but he does not belong to us.
His radical and radiant life draws people to him who don’t understand him the way we do. And, the way I see it, his and their relationship is really none of my business. That’s between them and him, not between them and me.
I’m just thankful that all kinds of people in all sorts of places and circumstances find Jesus fascinating.
I also know how hard it is for anyone to live like Jesus lived. I especially know how hard it is for me.
The way of Jesus is to:
Find joy in the beauty of creation and the delights of ordinary life.
Live fully and freely your honest-to-God life.
Love everyone, even those it’s most difficult to love.
Seek and make peace; renounce violence and revenge.
Spend your life for the sake of compassion.
Welcome the marginalized; make friends with strangers; love your enemies.
Forgive and seek forgiveness.
These things are hard.
And, if we’re trapped in shame, guilt, fear, and loneliness, they’re almost impossible.
For me, there’s a connection between learning to live in these ways and trusting that God loves us as we are and forever, forgives us though we don’t deserve it, and stays with us no matter what happens to us. Jesus has convinced me that these things are true about God.
I follow Jesus because my experience is that Jesus is alive here and now, that he is closer than our own breaths, and that his energy and spirit flow through us. He makes his kind of life possible—not easy, but possible—for us.
Zoe, an older woman whom Sara Miles befriended in the feeding ministry of the Episcopal Church to which she belongs in San Francisco, said “Guess what? Hey, I’m telling you, that Jesus dude is sneaky. He just hides in the bushes and jumps out and says ‘Hey it’s me!’ and then you gotta follow him everywhere.” (Jesus Freak, p. 107).
Maybe he’ll even jump out of a Christmas tree.