Friday, April 25, 2008

The real Jesus and real people

I have a high respect towards those who choose to live a monastic way of life, isolating themselves from the world for seeking spiritual truths. I am not saying all of them are genuine cases, some may be influenced by hallucinations and mistake it as truth. During my teenage years and early twenties, I wanted to go to the mountains and write poems. I wasn’t really ‘spiritual’ but I always had a tendency to be alone. Solitude can be very soothing and refreshing to me (even today). Jesus took time to withdraw Himself from the crowd and Bible says, early in the morning He went to the mountains to pray.

To me, that is a dream. I have no such luxury in life (at least as of now). I am consistently tossed back and forth between work, home, bills and problems. Apart from few isolated moments of spirituality, I have nothing much to claim that I have experienced the presence of God. The feelings such as no enough prayer, no enough Bible reading are so very common in life and to be honest I feel guilty about it some time. The other day my wife asked me if I have ever felt that God directly speaking to me. Well, I had to think hard to remember at least one occasion.

I understand how monks can be spiritual. But, can the rest of us be spiritual? Can I be spiritual when I have a leaking basement, unpaid bills and a car with transmission problems? What about those who have mentally challenged kids, teenagers with behavioral problems, old age parents, life threatening sickness, divorce issues, disabilities, addictions and condemning church members? Can they be spiritual?

I am talking about real people with real problems. The messy, rejected and depressed. I am not talking about those who appear as if they have figured everything out in life. I am not talking about those super religious, extraordinary, disciplined, "church potato"s. I am talking about the people who are messed up in life and in need of rescue. I am talking about the people who agree that they do not experience the presence of God in their life, no matter how hard they try. I am talking about the people who have been ridiculed by the ‘super religious’ saying that the cause of their problems are their lack of faith. Can they be spiritual?

The answer is YES. Those are the kind Jesus need. He came for the sick and He hanged out with such kind. The kind of people society rejects – sinners, lepers, blind, prostitutes, tax collectors, homeless, weary and laden…
He went to the midst of them, loved, hugged and supped with them. He wasn’t doing the ‘extraordinary’ charity, it was normal to Him; He loved the messy, weary and heavy laden. Folks, this is what gives me hope, that He can love me right in the midst of all my nonspiritual, unworthiness.

He loves me even when I am devastated in the crowded busyness of my life. He loves me right through my unbelief, sins and bad temper. There is nothing I can do to stop Him from loving me. I can boast in His love because it is solid, unwavering and unshakable. I can't help but thank Him for the of the rest of my life.

I am tired of listening to those double talking, rigid hearted, hypocritical, judgmental pharisees. I am sorry, I am only interested in real people. Don't come to me with a lie that I need to get all my acts clean for Jesus to love me. I am not interested in such a 'made up', 'religious' Jesus. I want the real Jesus, the Jesus whom the Bible proclaims!

I am convinced that there is hope for any sinner. Jesus forgave those who killed Him; and believe me you aren't as bad as them. Our messiness has value in the sight of God (and only in the sight of God). The problems, confusion, questions we face have value in the sight of God. In EVERYTHING, even in our sins, He works for our good.

"Everything--great, small, important, unimportant, distant, and near--has its place, its meaning, and its value. Through union with Him...nothing is wasted, nothing is missing. There is never a moment that does not carry eternal significance--no action that is sterile, no love that lacks fruition, and no prayer that is unheard." - Brennan Manning

He sees the desires of our heart, the desire to get out of the mess we are in and He respect that desire, not necessarily by pulling us right out of it, but by loving us right through it...

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