Tuesday, July 3, 2012
There are times when I am talking with my siblings about growing up together, and how we saw our parents, when I wonder whether we even had the same parents. My memories and perceptions sometimes seem vastly different than theirs. Some of this has to do with gender, birth order and personality; but some of it also is the result of different people experiencing similar circumstances with very different perceptions. There is no more important person in Christianity than Jesus. The experience of God in our lives, not just through thoughts, doctrine, laws, or institutions; but in the living reality of a love and presence that has been one with us is crucial to the Christian journey. And, yet, as with the differing experiences siblings might have with their parents; so, too, are the experiences of Jesus seen and known in different ways. For some people the liberating and authority challenging figure of Jesus gives strength and deep meaning; for others it is his healing touch that defines and makes everything real for them. Sometimes we seek out the figure of Jesus that fits our own desire and who might justify our opinions and beliefs that we have come to know. When there is a controversy of some sort, it is always good to feel that what we are thinking or advocating is perhaps the godly way, the right way, the side Jesus is also advocating. But this desire to have Jesus with us is oftentimes a desire to have Jesus serve us. This desire to control God can be found in our prayers, sometimes, when we petition God with specific expectations and conditions. What has propelled Christianity through millennia, is not the response of a serving God, waiting to meet our desires and orders; but an experience of God that can convert, transform, redefine, and heal us from our desires and controlling ways. My prayers might be to keep me from pain and ill health. But, the journey and companionship I have found with Jesus is one that in fact leads me into the conflict and through the pain and to find the illnesses I might face to, in fact, be the seed for my deeper healing. I might want Jesus to change someone with whom I am struggling, but it always comes back to me and my need to forgive and pray into a place of loving again. Recently I found a picture of my father when he was a young teenager, I have it hanging on my wall. It accompanies other pictures of him that I have in various places. It is fun to see him as a young man. But each of these pictures of him, reflect changes he has made over the years, but in each picture is an image of the person I know and love. There are many images of Jesus, from a wide range of cultures and experiences. There are many stories people have shared of how their life has been changed and made new because of his love. But in each of these is the essence, the understanding or perhaps the vibrating of harmonic similarities to my own stories and experiences. I might not have experienced Jesus the same way as someone else, but then when I look at the picture of my father as a young teenager I am reminded that I also did not experience my father is this way either. But I know both, and am thankful and have been deepened by such love. I might, from time to time, encourage Jesus to follow me and take my lead; but always come back to the realization that he is leading, and that his lead is always back into the faithfulness of our relationship. The very limited scope of my desires is always dwarfed and made inconsequential when I open my heart to the eyes of Jesus looking through me. I usually want something to happen, while Jesus wants us to happen.