June 19, 2012

Where Did We Get This Idea?

Where did we get the idea that Jesus is unapproachable, judgmental, and merciless toward us?

We have no problem imagining the man Jesus that walked our earth, our roads, and our temptations as compassionate toward the diseased, at ease with the untouchables and the outcasts, or merciful toward the prostitute on the street.

But toward us? We bring our adulterous hearts before him, and we imagine He responds to us like a Pharisee: dour, nitpicky, unmoved, uncaring, merciless. We stand at a distance from Him, unsure of what He thinks of what we've done or what has been done toward us. Certainly, we assume, His love is only for the elite, the clean, the select insiders.
Where did we get this idea that the man Jesus--God With Us--is different than the One we walk with today? And where did we get the idea that we must perpetuate this Pharisee Jesus to others, requiring their cleanness before they can come near?

The same Jesus who touched the rotting flesh of the leper, delighted in the faith of a loose woman washing his feet with her hair, wept over hearts gone astray, dined with the hated outcasts of society-- this same Jesus dwells with you today, ready to heal the deepest wounds of your soul and take care of your needs with tender love.

Alot of people walking with the man Jesus didn't see His heart. They were confused and often frustrated by the extent of His compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. His grace went too far outside the bounds of religion and proper behavior.

But the children got it right. Jesus even made a point to tell the adults that the children were getting it right about Him. As children do, they pushed their way through the adults and threw themselves wildly onto His lap, begging Him to play, looking directly in His eyes, touching His face and hair, all the while flitting and wiggling about. They instinctively knew that, with Him, they were loved, welcomed, accepted, safe, protected, secure, and free.

So where did we get this idea that we can't fling ourselves wildly at Jesus? Why do we think He can't handle our uncleanness? Why do we think we're on out the outside of the super-spiritual elite? Why do we believe He wags His finger at us like a Pharisee? Why do we stand at a distance when we could be at His side, touching His face, basking in His delight?

Clearly, the man Jesus rejoiced when people threw themselves at Him in faith. He must certainly delight in those who have not seen Him but believe, who fling themselves in the air trusting they'll be caught, who see Him for who He is: one who makes crooked paths straight, who receives the unclean and makes them clean, and who brings the outsiders into His family.

And One who gleefully loves to do so.