One of the defining marks over time between denominations in the Christian world is how we interpret the Bible — the words and teachings of Jesus — and how we decipher his stories and actions. Today we’re examining Jesus’ life with a megaphone, and it seems like everyone has joined the conversation, not over a cup of a hot coffee or a meal, but at our keyboards and in our pulpits and Bible studies. We’ve gone from a faithful religion to a political and social religion, in which the teachings of Jesus are used by us to prop up whatever we are claiming in our latest argument.
So I have to wonder: Have we missed who Jesus is altogether?
It is emotionally and mentally draining to watch people we love draw lines in the sand, take sides, threaten at times to never speak to one another again. Holidays have been ruined. Family relationships have been lost. Friendships are broken because in our communicating, we’ve abandoned grace.
In a political, guns-drawn society in which the loudest voices are those on either ends of the spectrum, what about those who are somewhere in the middle, either quietly trying to find their way or yelling at the top of their lungs without being heard?
Jesus, of course, was radical in his own way, going against the grain of political, social, and religious society. But he was also overwhelmingly compassionate toward the unheard and unseen. They were the ones who saw him and knew him. They were the ones who experienced an intimacy with him others wanted, even if it was only for a moment as the bleeding woman touched his robe.
But we are so busy yelling at each other, we miss the still, small voice. We are so busy being right we miss asking questions, we miss being unsure so that we can honestly ask what's next, what’s best, what the true heart of Jesus is.
And so, we yearn to become like the children again, the ones who didn't have the facts but had unmeasured curiosity for Jesus' presence.
The best thing for us today is to put aside everything we've created around who we think Jesus is and start again in Nazareth, start again where a baby was born to change everything.
Wide-eyed wonder wouldn't hurt anything right now, but it might bring us back to each other on a steadier ground, knowing that because we don't have all the answers, we don't always have to fight so hard.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it means that we don’t have to stand by our labels so much. It means that maybe we’re not all just conservatives and progressives, only labeling each other based on a belief system we can’t seem to let go of.
If we begin again at Jesus, we begin again at our stories, at each other’s stories, at grace and shalom. Then everything comes out of that, and we redefine who we are, who the church is, what our politics looks like.
That seems to be the way of Jesus, who knew when to speak and when to be silent, knew when to heal and when to walk on, knew when it was time to say again, "be like the children. Then you'll understand the kingdom."
May we be like the children, and may we seek the Jesus that was and is and ever will be, no matter who our cultures say he is.