I met Jesus.
I was sitting in room of Christians who had traveled far and wide to hear a few speakers at small gathering. I had my note paper and Bible out. It was more likely that I’d use them for a distraction, then to be using for notes. I’d been here before. I questioned why I was here again. The class began, the introduction provoked notes, the class went on and nothing was said. At the end I sighed, but I wasn’t surprised. We had time between the session and lunch, but it was all the same room so I stayed, thinking my thoughts. I talked to one of the people who was there, well… I listened really, and she did most of the talking. I heard her story, but I didn’t have much to say. She didn’t seem to need someone to explain life or even theology to her, although she had questions about both. Her story begged to be heard, to be considered, to be acknowledge. As I listened, considered, and thought upon the summation of her story, I heard Jesus, begging to be acknowledge. I heard Jesus disappointed in being misunderstood and pre-judged. I heard Jesus concerned for his children and what will become of them in this age. I heard that sweet familiar voice, and I didn’t know how to respond. I just listened.
That night as we said goodbye a dear friend confide in my husband and I of how weak, tired, and lonely he was. How he struggled to feel like he could make it through the day. How a child’s smile was something that could bring light into his life because it was so dim all around him, and it might be all had to encourage him that week. There was that voice again, it was Jesus, and he wept. Jesus was lonely and tired. Jesus was in the middle of a room of Christian folks, and he was barely making it. He didn’t know he was valued. Even in that room he couldn’t feel the love his heart longed for. Jesus wept right in front of us. Jesus was tired and lonely. Jesus need someone to carry his cross for him, and I cried because I wasn’t close enough to be he one to carry this cross with Jesus. I saw someone else get chosen. Someone who was confused and didn’t understand the task given to him. “Everybody loves him” he told me in cheerful yet disappointed to be overlooked kind of way. Then I understood….
The body of Christ is broken.
In the Gospel books of the Bible, where they recount to story of Jesus lifetime on Earth, one of the things that is mention about Jesus’ death is that none of his bones were broken, just as the Passover lamb is eaten whole and not broken. Of course, it’s also known Jesus was badly beaten before he was executed, so his physical body was torn up, but it wouldn’t have been what we considered broken. At least it’s something to reconsider.
However, Chrisitanity considers the believers to be the body of Christ, particular as they meet together. In this, I can definitely say the body of Christ is broken. We don’t really talk to each other, or maybe we don’t really listen to each other. We don’t expect to meet together and hear God’s heart from someone else’s story… but why not?
One of the famous parables that Jesus taught is called the parable about the sheep and goats (found in Matthew chapter 25:31-46), and in this story Jesus says this phrase, “as you’ve done it unto the least of these my brethren, so you’ve done it unto me.” We take this to mean the way we treat the lesser or unnoticed people, is ultimately counted as the way we truly treat or care about Jesus. As simple of concept as this is, we often do not consider it.
Faithful Christians who long to grow into maturity look for more mature teachers, someone who can impart to them wiser counsel, deeper understanding, fuller perception. Seek to become better. We watch well-known, well-attested speakers, preachers, authors and we grab at any hint of “insight” they might bestow upon us. We pray for miracles. Some pray for revival. Others pray for revelation. We sit together, searching together, and we rarely bother to ask our lowly comrades about their own life stories. We leap at the chance to teach, to be called on, to be noticed! And we leave our lowly companions behind. We aren’t very Christian at all. We don’t know the first thing about maturity. We don’t understand Jesus.
Jesus teaches that if we want to be the greatest Saint ever, we must become the servant to the lowliest Christian. This ultimately two things. Number one: authority, spirituality, and leadership are not what we’ve previously imagined them to be. Number two: we need each other… We need to acknowledge each other. We need to see Jesus in the lesser, the despised, the castoff, the forgotten. We need to turn our seats around and face one another. If we really want to grow in maturity, then we won’t be “distracted” by one other, instead we will find Jesus I the sufferings, sorrows, and even smiles of one another.
There’s a simple reason Jesus identifies himself with “the least of these my brethren”. God’s wisdom isn’t the same as the rulers of this age. Jesus doesn’t lead his apostles and prophets and disciples to platforms, at least not for very long. Instead we walk in deserts, back alleys, secret passageways. Jesus leads us to sit in the middle of nowhere with the hungry when we have no banquet to give them. We sit half-dead in prison cells, in chains, in stocks and we sing to our God. We sit in small crowded rooms and share a meal, a story, a song, a hope, a million prayers. Jesus leads his disciples to pray throughout the night, when we’re tired, sleep-deprived, hopeful and yet losing faith, when we’re on a battered ship and all the hearts around us are drained and hopeless. Jesus leads us to the houses of mourning, to the tombs of “if you were here this would not have happened”, to religious leaders who say to us “what gives you the right to say these things?”
Jesus leads to places where are habits are questioned, our dedication is questioned, our choices are questioned, our diet it questioned, and relationship with God is questioned. Jesus lead all of his disciples through these places when he was here on Earth, and he still leads us through these places now …because this is where Jesus is. This is where he’s always been. Jesus has always been with despised, the lowly, the castoff, the forgotten.
The Bible make the commentation that Jesus “came to his own, and they knew him not” or they rejected him, but sort of… Many of the religious who we’re suppose to stand for the best representives of the community in their time did not acknowledge or accept Jesus, but yet many of lowly, pushed aside, nobodies they recognized something in Jesus that only comes from God. The God of the Bible has long identified himself with the small, lowly, and humble. God made his name known through a people who have been historically small in numbers. The God of the Bible has long had a heart for the forgotten people. At times God has even idenitified himself as being forgotten, neglected, unloved, uncherished, embarrassed, unacknowledged. Though it seems God wouldn’t understand these lowly feelings, this is actually something God has known all too well.
God seeks for someone to hear his story, someone to listen to his heart, someone to acknowledge this brokenness around him. God seeks for someone to work with him. Our great and mighty God, allows himself to feel our pain, but are we willing to know his pain, his heart? Can our prayers exceed beyond our present circumstances into prayers for the “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”? Can we see Jesus when we see devastions around us? Can we be a people who stand in the gap and listen for God’s heart, not just so that we can say we’re closer to God, but because he longs to be heard?
Are we wiling to be the saints in our generation? The sacrifice we make is the wisdom we’ve acquired. We must trade what we’ve learned about how to grow in spirituality, and we must listen until we hear a Jesus who is lonely, a Jesus who is worried about his children, a Jesus who thinks he’s overlooked because everyone loves that guy over there better.
Wouldn’t it be cool just to tell that Jesus you love him? Wouldn’t it be life-changing to spend sometime with that Jesus? Wouldn’t it be just like God to sit with these troubled-hearted people, even if we have nothing to offer but our own listening ear and loving heart?
I saw Jesus and he wept, and I loved him all the more for it.
My prayers are with the these saints who continue to press on and make sense of this battle the fight. May God let them see and feel that Jesus is right there with them suffering what they suffer and yet loving them enough to help them overcome these times as well. May the believers around them make themselves known, so that Jesus can be seen and felt in vibrantly realistic ways in these lives, at this time. May Christ body be healed and no longer broken, discontinued, and losing the blood-life that we’re meant to pump into one another. God save us, we are your people.