This is for you, love. The one who wants to believe. The one who can’t believe. The one who won’t believe. The one who sees the now as the only, and the next as the never. This is for you, tender skeptic who struggles to find reason in a life gone mad, yet still sees hope in the face of a child.
This is for the us who give little thought to recorded time actually being split in two by the life of a man named Jesus, who find distaste in the word “Christian” because it sets heavy on our hearts as a weight or a fist. This is for the us – the ones who have been hurt or maimed or forgotten.
This is for you, love. Because I want you to know Jesus. The Christ. The God-Man who defies logic and yet makes sense of it all. I’m not sharing stories of His miracles or the redemptive work that happened when He was nailed to a cross or recite the words of a hymn – because those things are Sunday morning church things, and Sunday morning causes you to quake a bit. Instead, I want to introduce you to this Christ. The one who angered religious leaders because He turned love upside down. This isn’t poetry, love. This isn’t fable. This is every-day Jesus. This is how He lived His life. This is how He loves.
He found rest in quiet things, and wasn’t afraid to step away. He loved mountains and He loved the water.
He did it all and yet left things undone, and He trusted others to take the reins of control.
He taught that we should be governed by something stronger than governments.
He said life is best lived from the inside out, and life given away is the best life of all.
He told hard truth – that suffering is as much living as celebrating is.
He believed enemies are to be loved, and that kindness is a killer weapon.
He always welcomed strangers to the table. Always.
He taught that everyone is worthy of belonging, that we are created for community.
He said those at the last of the line are worthy of the best portions, and that pushing is never pretty.
He showed us that we should never be afraid to hold someone. Really hold them.
He demonstrated that it’s OK to look at someone in the eye and say, “You know what to do. Don’t be afraid anymore. Now stand.”
He said we would do more than He did. If we would simply believe.
He said it wouldn’t be easy to say “yes” to Him. He said it wasn’t for the faint-hearted or those simply wanting a hand-out. He said He was God, and yet said He was a servant. And He proved He was both.
He told us poverty never leaves and always has a purpose – and that purpose is us.
He touched pain and He held disease and He never said it was too much.
He proved that love that’s manipulated or coerced or forced isn’t love at all.
That there is not one thing that keeps a door closed to love outside of our own white-knuckled fury on the knob.
That what matters in this world is not what we can gather up in this world.
That hands always open to give receive gifts that can’t be measured.
That grace is only graceful if it’s grace-full.
That the right choice is never about us.
That doing right trumps being right.
That prayer is talking and listening and breathing.
That forgiveness sets hearts free.
That getting low to hold a hand or write “you are loved” in dirt is a worthy thing.
That entitlement and privilege are other words for pride.
That pride knows no color or class, and fear finds its place where pride finds its home.
That evil is but a ghost that rattles broken chains loudly.
That people are more than their possessions.
That love trumps hate.
That endings aren’t really endings at all.
That life matters. All life. Always.
That life always springs forth.
It can always be redeemed.
Always made new.
Every-day Jesus worked on a Sunday and met a scandalous woman in broad daylight and tossed a few tables when He saw that real love was being made into a circus. He spent time with the folks others whispered about, and He found it more real to ride a donkey than a steed when everyone wanted to call Him a king.
Before He was arrested and accused and crucified with criminals, every-day Jesus sat down for dinner with the friends He had known for three years. He fed them and poured wine and He asked them to never forget the moment – because His life was wrapped in it. He looked in the face of the ones who would deny him, the ones who would fight over who deserved the better seat, and even the face of the one who would sell His soul for a bag of money worth a nice plot of land and a comfortable life for a while. Then, He washed their filthy feet. And He asked them to do just one thing. Love each other well.
After His arrest, Jesus witnessed life-long enemies became friends when His destruction became their common goal, and He didn’t cry foul. He could have opened the pages that described exactly what they were doing and would do, but He didn’t. Silence would shout the words later.
He was unafraid to pray, unafraid to ask that things be different, unafraid to let demands wash away with tears that trusted in something more.
When a well-known criminal was given pardon while Jesus prepared for death, He didn’t argue His case or demand His freedom. He believed in dignity. When bits of flesh were ripped from his back by a cat of nine tails whip, every-day Jesus didn’t glare and say, “You’ll pay for this, you sorry excuse for a human. You just wait.” Instead, He took every bruise, every blow. Every single one.
He made sure His mom was taken care of before He died. And He looked in the face of those who decided His life wasn’t worth much and said, “It’s OK. I understand. I forgive you now – and I will never put you to shame.”
Even after He had folded the burial clothes and tidied up the tomb and walked away from death that thought it had won, He looked people in the eye and called them by name. He let Thomas, the one who always tried but always struggled with doubt, touch the very places where the nails and spear had sliced through flesh and muscle and nerve.
Every-day Jesus made a fried fish breakfast for Peter, the one who had denied Him three times when fear whispered “keep yourself safe” – and then asked him to be a shepherd of people.
Every-day Jesus walked for hours with two men who thought hope had died forever on a cross. He listened intently. He ate with them. And when He spoke, it was with wisdom and grace. He never made them feel stupid. He never made them feel less than. He spoke truth – and they came alive.
Every-day Jesus says “come.” Every-day Jesus says, “Trust me. I won’t let you out of My sight.” Every-day Jesus says, “It’s not easy – but I’m here to carry.” Every-day Jesus says, “Now.”
“Jesus says. “Acknowledge and accept who I want to be for you: a Savior of boundless compassion, infinite patience, unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs. Quit projecting onto Me your own feelings about yourself. At this moment your life is a bruised reed and I will not crush it, a smoldering wick and I will not quench it. You are in a safe place.”
“The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation. He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.” ~Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child
Happy day, love. From Every-Day Jesus. And me.