There's a lot of trash going around these days.
A lot of trash being said about Christianity and a lot of trash being said by Christians. It's gut-wrenching to me. Honestly, I get a twisted knot in my stomach of anxiety when I read too much and start thinking about what an ugly, messed-up image is being displayed of the church... partly because of the unbelief and hatred of those on the outside, and partly because of the ignorance and hatred of those on the inside. Sometimes I want to jump in the ring and start fighting because I want to defend what I believe in, but the wiser part of me knows to keep my mouth shut. (At least for the most part, right?)
The only comfort from this broken, damaged, adulterated idea of Jesus that's being thrown around is Jesus himself. The real one. The one I love.
When I think about Jesus, the knot unravels. I simply cannot help it if the world sees the broken image from afar and turns away in disgust, or if foolish Christians choose to misrepresent him. I can only pray that people's hearts will quietly long to discover the truth about him, and that one day they will.
If we'll allow ourselves just for a moment to look past what Christianity "looks like" in the contemporary, social scene and look to Scriptures at Jesus himself, we'll find a man worth noticing.
I think Jesus was the kind of guy that walked into a room and turned heads. Not because of his physical appearance, but because he was unpredictable, enigmatic, and mysterious in an exciting way... yet also unassuming, friendly and humble. People were drawn to him.
He would sometimes preach sermons in the temple to the Jewish believers, sometimes tell stories on a hillside to anyone who cared to gather and hear.
He was funny. He liked to play with words and beat people at their own game when they tried to trip him up with tricky questions. He went to parties and drank wine and laughed with his friends and brothers.
He was tough on sin, yes- he told people to repent, but it's important to remember that he was harder on the religious people who took pride in their own righteousness and condemned the sins of others rather than their own. The only sin that he seemed to treat as "worse" or uglier than the rest was pride within the hearts of those who claimed to know him.
He took special notice of the lonely, the outcast, the crippled.
He spoke up for people when no one else would and he didn't like bullying.
He forgave freely.
He was fiercely unafraid. He claimed, unabashedly, to be the son of God and our only way to the Father.
I imagine him sneaking off from the pressing crowds like he often did, stealing away to be alone on a hillside with his Father. I imagine his human hands, tanned and worn like a carpenter's, folded together in prayer.... or maybe tucked behind his head as he looked to the sky... or maybe picking at a flower or the grass as he let his mind wander peacefully into prayer.
I imagine this man that was, that still is. And I know that he's mindful of all this. It makes me feel ashamed and encouraged all at once.
There will be a time when he will finally make himself known again. Until then, I can only hope that, one-by-one, people will long to know him truthfully. Not the FOX or CNN or Huffington Post or Chickfila or Westboro Baptist (shudder) or Facebook or even Baretribe version of him.
But Jesus - the real thing.