With Easter coming I’ve been thinking, along with most other Christians, a lot about the cross. I am still blown away that God came and died so that I might live. The cross is what separates Christianity from all other religions in the world. We alone serve a God who died for us, who sacrificed for our sins, who willingly took the punishment I deserved. The cross is a breathtaking reminder of the cost and depth of grace.
Over the past few years it seems the cross is being moved from the center of our faith to the totality of our faith. We are told that every sermon, every lesson, every thought must point back to the cross. All of faith is simplified to three icons: the manger, the cross and the empty tomb.
My fear is that in emphasizing the death of Jesus we are losing the meaning of the life of Jesus. It’s not as though he was killing time between the manger and the cross. “I’ve got 33 years to get this done, so I guess I’ll heal some people and teach some lessons.” Jesus lived life on purpose, and he intended us to follow the pattern he established.
So what are significant rhythms of Jesus’ life? Here are some things that jump out at me:
- Jesus healed people. A lot of people.
We have moved as far away from healing people as possible because it is mysterious and we don’t know how it works. But you can’t read the life of Jesus or his disciples without realizing there was a lot of healing going on. How can we incorporate healing into our lives on a daily basis?
- Jesus hung out with his disciples all of the time. They ate together, they traveled together, they went to the beach together.
Jesus specifically and publicly chose an exclusive group of close friends and then he spent an inordinate amount of time with them. This seems like a pattern he wanted us to follow. Do I have a group of friends that I have specifically identified as people I am going to invest the rest of my life in? Do I spend the time with them it would take? The answer for me is not so much.
- He spent time with men AND women. Some of his closest followers were women and he was ok with that.
Jesus didn’t seem too concerned about what people might say, or the fact that women were looked down on by most men. He seemed comfortable with women as leaders and as a part of his closest circle. (All of his disciples were men, but the fact that they lived together may have precluded bring women into that group.) No matter how I interpret Paul’s teaching on women as elders/pastors it seems to follow Jesus pattern women should have major roles of leadership in any ministry I’m involved in.
- He spent a lot of time at parties.
Jesus seemed to have a ministry of partying with sinners. Not just churchy events, but real live party till the sun comes up parties. And he got invited to a lot of parties, so he must have been fun to be around. Maybe I am going to too many church parties and not attending enough keggers.
- He didn’t seem to care how big the crowd was.
Jesus never seemed impressed with attendance at his events. In fact he seemed to purposely say things that drove people away. I can’t imagine Jesus paying attention to any “Largest” or “Fastest Growing” lists. I am too worried about the “how many” question and not worried enough about the “how well”.
These are just a few of things that I find lacking in my life when I compare it to Jesus, there are many more.
This Easter while I am celebrating the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, which are absolutely central to my faith, I’m going to spend some extra time examining the life of Jesus and how mine matches up. Will you join me?