16 Jan 2015

Newness: it happens when we walk like Jesus

The most amazing endeavour any human can undertake

is to get out of his own skin.

After all, the furthest distance is between two hearts.

This means the most courageous exploration and the grandest discovery is the road of com-passion: to share and come along, in suffering. Indeed, the happiest times the heart, the home, and even the earth has known are times when we reach out to each other and sought to understand and co-operate. But our world is scarred with recurring reminders that pock-mark our humanity - just this past week, the crazy grief as hearts filled with suspicion and rage give vent to its poison gunning down innocent lives.

Cutting through all the rhetoric and press perspectives, the needy question no one can answer in our media remains: what can bridge these hearts?

She told me how she visited her neighbour with dementia and was surprised the old lady could call her by name. the old lady is locked up at home the whole day while her son goes to work. It's a terrible plight; and I asked if God may desire her to reach out in some small way, maybe to bring a meal? I see the reluctance in her eyes. It would be easy to chide someone for being selfish; but aren't we all? And the distance within our divided heart is enough for a heroic conquest.

The church service began and this song came on King of all the earth {listen as you read on}.

Suddenly, i see a picture before me as the song played on. I caught a glimpse of someone's back and felt instinctively that it was the Lord. I the follower, a few steps behind my Lord, watching him from behind. Then it hit me.

Most of us carry about us so much dissatisfaction. There are so many bits of our life we don't like and our constant desire and sometimes prayer is for God to remove or change the circumstances. Sometimes, we reach a spot where we allow that perhaps what needs to change is ourselves. But we often linger there and stay our gaze on our unhappiness. The change doesn't come for a long time or even; never ever comes.

What about Jesus? Does he implore God to remove him from sticky situations, zap his enemies or with a divine sleight of hand re-arrange his circumstances?

We hear him plead in Gethsemane, yes, but in his daily life, there is none of this terror. Everything in the world that he went through is not known to him when he was in Eternal Union with God beyond our time-space. But the Cross is a particular terror of such cosmic proportions; Gethsemane is beyond our comprehension. I refuse to claim it as a picture of our need to surrender.

Let's face it. we have hoped for that boss to disappear, that colleague to flop, that friend to quietly un-friend us so we can breathe again... Yes, include all the venomous, murderous thoughts while we are at it.

Those are the thoughts Jesus won't entertain because it is not in His being to go in that direction.

I know. I used to protest too: he is God after all! Yes he is, but we are "partakers of the divine nature" Peter reminds us. {see 2 Peter 1v4}

Peter's fellow apostle puts it across in a different way in his letter called 1 John. He made it pretty clear: it is one way or the other. Either you are following Christ, trusting Him for your salvation, and one of His... in which case, you are to "walk as Jesus did" {see 1 John 2v6}.

I thought back to what I saw while the song played. His back was a little bent, as he is trying to fit into a smallish space; as if he sees something, or someone, and wants to reach it.

I hate bending myself to adjust, adapt and risk pulling a muscle or two. I'd like to avoid those uncomfortable spaces, those unlovely people who make me feel like they are draining the living lights out of me.

But Jesus is going to

He is going to
Throw light

and this is precisely how Newness works.
We follow the Newness Bringer - he who has wrestled with the worst of darkness, been held hostage by death, and triumphed over all of it. And now, through His Spirit working in us, He is seeking to spread Newness for and through us -- as we walk as He walks.

I just returned from a gathering of national pastors.One of the best pieces of news I heard is that some young people in Singapore have found out that those garbage cleaners, mostly from Bangladesh, save on their finances by living in the dumps, sleeping next to the rodents who recently grabbed the headlines. These young people have started visiting and befriending these workers. This is Newness in a sleek city of good looks, organised days and clean streets!

Martin Dugand* found seven traits in all good explorers who actually carve out new trails and solve mysteries: 

hope and 

What a new way to think of our Lord, the Explorer! We too are now explorers because a whole new territory has opened up for us.

Go on, look hard. If you see Jesus walk right ahead of you, walk right into that scary, disconcerting, stressful, uptight and inconvenient situation. he will even slow his step and take your hand.

*The Explorers, the book

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