A few days ago I saw a picture that has been on my mind ever since. The picture seems to be after a gathering, a group of people are dispersing, anyway. There’s a guy walking towards the camera with a sign that says, “Jesus hung out with 12 guys and a prostitute. He’s a lot more like me than you.” Now, I have no idea what meeting this sign was for. It seems likely that the cause would be something I wouldn’t agree with, but regardless of it’s original intent, there was a message in there somewhere that I’ve been wrestling with…Who is more like Jesus? and even What was Jesus really like?
It sounds weird, I know, but I have an insanely hard time wrestling with this. Being like Christ is supposed to be the goal of this great experience (experiment?) called Christianity. I mean, the guy’s name is central to the whole name of the religion(/relationship). So in order to do that, we are called to be different; live and act different and right. We polish up our halos, tune up our harps and live. We are called to be in and not of and we tend to focus on the “not of” part more than the “in.” In order to keep the halos shiny and our robes shiny white, we avoid the right things and people. Well, not avoid. We’ll talk to them (most of the time) to invite them to join our club and act surprised when they back away. Typically, after this we shrug and assume that they might have been blinded by the sheen that the new Sin-Away cleaner has given our holy glow.
But was this what Jesus did? Yes, there were definitely people that didn’t care for his holy glow either, but over all people seem to be clambering over each other in an attempt to get closer to him. People were concerned because of the people who came to Jesus and the people Jesus went to find. The untouchable, the unsavory, the detested all were people Jesus took time to get to know just as well as he did the respectable people in society. He did it often enough to worry people.
So when we search to figure out how to be, how do we look at Jesus? We teach that Jesus was a unique phenomenon: the God-man. So much God as if he weren’t human, so much human as if he weren’t God. A paradoxical double 100% blend. We know that it is impossible to be completely like Christ, but we’re still called to be like him. It is hard to wrap your mind around the fact that the very One who spoke the universe into existence probably joined into a conversation about farting with his twelve best friends under the very stars he made. I’ll give you a minute….See? I told you it was difficult.
How is it possible to live like this guy? Do I copy the holiness that cannot stand to be around sin or the man who dined with prostitutes? Strive hard to keep my robes spotlessly white or be all right if they pick up a little dusty haze while I tell the amazing story of the God-man? If I’m called to live a separate life, how do I become someone that lepers, children and (gulp) tax collectors want to be near? And if we can’t figure out how to do this right, forget about meeting every other Christian’s Christ-like standards.
I hate to say it but it often seems like those we’re supposed to seek out and spread the gospel to are the ones who seem the most like Jesus.
And I don’t expect an answer. And I know I’ll never get this right. But I think my soul would feel lighter if I could make my peace with this tonight. This life isn’t easy though. It’s true that it’s easier to get dragged down than to life someone up. At the same time, though, you can’t help lift someone if you aren’t reaching out.
I’m not posing answers. This is just round Several Hundred in an age old wrestling match for me…