Does it really matter? At the heart of it all, does it REALLY matter?
As I consider the work and acts of Jesus, I can’t find where it matters to him. I look, I search, I ponder and I still cannot come up with anything. For the life of me, I cannot find where it matters to him. In fact, it seems to be the opposite…he really doesn’t seem to care AT ALL. And if Jesus doesn’t care…if I am really reading this correctly, then I can’t imagine why Christians care. If we wear the title…if we walk among those that claim it…if we sit among those that struggle with it…if we, in fact, carry the name of Jesus in any way, shape or form, then, can it matter? Am I missing something?
When I read the stories of Jesus, when I really take a few moments to open the Bible and plunge head first into the stories, it just doesn’t seem to matter to him. Let me tell you what I see as I swim deep in the waters: Jesus went out of his way to meet the people that no one seemed to care about. As he approached the ten lepers, they could not have looked well…they have a horrifying skin disease after all. They were likely deformed and difficult to see – likely a bit shocking. They probably had no actual clothing to speak of (I can’t imagine what would have been okay to wear with a devastating skin disease that would eat away at their lives). Yet, Jesus sees them, hears them, heals them. One of them isn’t even “like” him – that one was a Samaritan. That one…still healed, still loved, still offered new life. Yep – Jesus saw him. As I think about the blind beggar that Jesus hears and calls to him, I can almost see and smell him as he appears. This person was likely unclean, unkept, and was noticed before he was approached – he was a beggar after all…he could not have had any valuables by the other’s standards, he begged for everything he had…he could not have been “presentable” to be in the presence of Jesus, he couldn’t even see Jesus…YET, Jesus doesn’t care about any of that. Jesus loves him, he heals him, he answers his request. He is given new life. I feel like I am sitting next to the man staring at the water…where he has been sitting for so many years, with this disease…this disabling disease that has reeked havoc on his life for 38 years. He had sat in this very spot for all of those years with nothing – nothing to show for it, nothing to help, no one to care…he was depressed, hopeless, distressed – you can feel that he has given up on life. He likely had no possessions other than his mat, why would he need them? He was destitute sitting by a body of water just waiting for his turn to be healed…and it had not happened in all of those years. Jesus saw him, offered him hope like he could have never imagined, gave him a new life…and did it just as he was, unconditionally.
What do I notice about these few stories (note that there are so many more)? I notice that Jesus does NOT ask them to get themselves together before coming to him. I notice that Jesus does NOT lecture them on the mistakes they made to get there, if any. He does NOT quiz them on their past and the sins they may have committed or shun them for being in their present state. I notice Jesus does NOT ask them if they will follow him with a set of responsibilities in order to be healed. I can’t help but think that Jesus didn’t ask them to do anything because he knew them and he loved them – just as they were. They were welcomed in his presence no matter what they looked like or what they did. They were and are his children, after all.
As I read it, do you know what mattered to Jesus about these people? Nothing. He didn’t seem to care about the color of their skin, their ethnic background, how many times they had been to the synagogue, if they had gone through the Jewish rituals as a child, who their parents were, how they got there, what they had done right or wrong, or whether they were worthy. He didn’t care if they smelled good or had nice clothes or had any offering or could speak his language. He didn’t care if they knew when to sit or stand in church or if they had ever heard the opening of a scroll. He didn’t ask them how they got there or what they would do after meeting him. He simply loved them as they were…and people were changed by HIM.
Maybe THIS is the key to being the church…Maybe our response as the church is that it simply doesn’t matter – just come – Jesus is waiting with open, loving arms…we want you to meet him.
(image from Pinterest)