My Jesus is not like the picture of Jesus that is hanging in the Sunday school classroom. My Jesus does not have silky red and white robes with perfectly combed hair, a perfect completion, and smiling looking up heavenly with crystal blue eyes. My Jesus is dirty from his travels on the dusty Jerusalem roads. He is battered, bloody, poor, tired, thirsty…a convicted criminal.
What would happen if he walked in chose a pew for himself and took a seat next to Mrs. Never Skip Church in her Sunday best dress and hat? She would smile at him and say good morning, I doubt it. My guess is she would scowl and slide over away from Him. When we attend church, we expect to see a certain group of people around us in the pews. Everyone dressed in his or her good clothes nodding at the pastor. Children listening and not crying disturbing the rest of us. Would Jesus be comfortable in your church family?
It is so easy to get in a rut of attending church on Sunday and walking out feeling good about ourselves. What good Christians we are for not hitting the snooze and staying home. Being a Christian is more than a Sunday and maybe a Wednesday occurrence. Being a Christian is a daily existence. It is a living breathing part of your life. It is Jesus living through you. The real Jesus, not the made up good-looking one, but the Savior who died for our sins.
To be like Jesus we have to get out of the pew and into the world. We have to go and serve those in need. Many of us do lip service to this effect. My church has programs and I tithe to them all the time. Wonderful, but what are you doing to be like Jesus? Are you opening your doors to the homeless man on the corner? Come in, praise God with us, and let us feed your body and soul. Are you paying medical bills for the pregnant teenager in your youth group? More likely, the parishioners are gossiping about her behind her back and are looking down at her parents for raising a promiscuous daughter. It cannot be that your youth director chose not to discuss abstinence with the teenagers because some parents my get upset. No that’s not it.
As a church, Christians have to get out of that comfortable place where Sunday services feel safe and mundane. We need to be confrontational to the issues of our community. We have to get out there and touch people for Jesus. We have to feed the multitude, step in front of the stone throwers, wash dirty feet, and heal the hurting. We have to agree to change what we can and love everyone.
“Excuse me”, the writer says as she steps up on a wooden soapbox and taps the microphone. “I have something to say.” Clearing her throat, she begins to speak her peace:
“It really kills me when people who cannot talk to others face to face use the computer to voice their opinions. If you can type it, write it, or spell it then you can damn sure say it. Why hide behind the electronic curtain. (Pay no attention to the woman behind the keyboard, but do read what she types). PLEASE…the anonymity is a joke. Do you think that by writing what you feel or think that the person reading it will have less of a blow to their feelings? Maybe it is easier for you be honest by saying it on screen rather than directly to person with whom you want to share your feelings? Do us all a favor, if you have something to say to someone, have the audacity to say it to his or her face or at least call him or her and let him or her hear your voice. Sure, I write, that is what I do, but if I need to tell someone whom I love something that is important to him, her, or me I tell him or her. I do not go the chicken’s way out and write it on a blog, in an email or in a posting where everyone can read it. It is true that the pen, or keyboard, is mightier than the sword, but when it comes to telling your loved ones what you feel just say it to that person. Besides, using your voice is a more effective way to communicate fellings good or bad. Give yourself the dignity of speaking your mind, not hiding behind the computer. Trust me, they may not like what you have to say, but they will respect your courage to say it aloud.”
As the writer calmly steps down off the soapbox and away from the micrphone, she notices the tears in the eyes of the woman sitting at the café table closing the laptop on which she had been typing a message to her daughter. The woman stands and says loud enough for everyone nearby to hear, “Thank you”. The writer just nods and walks away.
© Lori L Riddles
Disclaimer: Do not take this personal, if it were personal, I would have spoken to you face to face. This is only a piece of blog post fiction. Any resemblance of persons living or dead is strictly a coincidence.
During the wrapping, shopping, and decorating, it hit me. All the stuff that I call traditions and all the seasonal necessities that I think we need are so not necessary. Christmas is about the family that I shop, decorate, wrap, and do the traditions for to try to please. I want Christmas to be perfect for our family so much that I go in debt to make it happen. Why? Will my family love me less if I do not go all out for them at Christmas? We are told through media, peer pressure, and social expectations that Christmas would not be special if we do not give our family all the things they want. We believe that Christmas will not be memorable if we do not max out our credit cards on the latest gadgets and greatest toys. This lie that the retail giants of the world want us to believe is fatal and tragic.
We have been told over again in all those mushy Christmas specials, Christmas is about loving each other. Christmas is not about stuff. The meaning behind the gifts is important. It does not matter if the gifts are the latest must have or a handmade creation. It is the love that you show that family while sitting around that over decorated tree. Once we take this truth to heart, Christmas will be special and memorable.
Today I graduate from the University of West Florida. I asked God to help me through each day…”just one day at a time God, I can’t do it without you” was my mantra. It was the only way I could have made it with my full time job and a family. My husband was my backbone and support. It was hard. Several long nights writing and reading just to get up from my desk at 4 AM to go to work. Many missed parties, special events and everyday moments. My daughter, mother, and husband had very little of my time. They suffered becuase of my dreams to have a degree. I was so very brain tired when I finished that last class ,that last exam, and that last paper. School was an obbsession, a vision, and a desire that I had to have. Today is the day. I walk across that stage and in less than five seconds it will be complete…I will be a college graduate. Thank God. As one adventure ends another begins.
One of my favorite bible stories is that of the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well. Others view her in the village as sinner. Let’s be honest here, she is labeled as a slut who has been married five times and is living with another man who is not her husband. To avoid whispers and stares from the other women, she goes to the well at the hottest part of the day. This particular day, a Jewish man met her there. Not only did he talk to her, which was unheard of, but also he asks her for a drink of water. No self-righteous Jew would have asked a Samaritan for anything. Jews usually avoided the Samaritan road at all costs, so the fact that Jesus is even there is amazing to her. She says to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” This is no ordinary Jew talking to this ordinary Samaritan woman. She does not realize it at first, but she would soon discover who he is. He tells her, “if you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” She is doubtful and asks him where he hid his bucket. She does not realize who he is or why he is offering her living water. He uses the water as a metaphor to explain to her that she needs the living water of eternal life.
He tells her “Go, call your husband, and come back.” She tells him she has no husband. She could have lied to him, how this stranger would know if she had a husband or not must have come to her mind. However, she tells the truth. She must have thought that if this Jew were talking to her, which was a miracle, she would not gain anything by lying to him. Jesus says to her that he knows her situation and I like to think he smiles at her honesty. She then tells him she knows the Messiah is coming and he replies, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Can you imagine the look on her face when He tells her who He is? It must have all made perfect sense to her then. The Messiah has come and he is forgiving her of sin. Yes, the outcast of the whole town, the woman with 6 men in her life, and brunt of the town’s gossips is given eternal life by the savior who came to this well to speak to this woman. Beaming she runs to tell others who she has met. Even though she knows, they will not believe her, she tells them anyway. She tells them to go talk to Jesus themselves. When they do, they believe Him to be what she says.
Jesus meet the woman where she was and where she needed him. She was not in a church on a Sunday morning, she was in her daily routine, and Jesus met her there. Jesus is not bound by Sunday morning services to meet with you either. He can meet you where you are, sinful and in need of a drink of living water.