I remember picking my 4 year old son up one day at day-care. Before I walked into the room I stopped and watched him through the window on the door. He had concocted a pirate eye patch out of paper and yellow yarn at some point during the day. He was standing in the middle of a circle of friends with his hand in the air, finger crooked over into the shape of a hook weaving stories about pirates and killer sea monsters. One child crouched tensely with a blanket draped over his head. The rest sat mesmerized with the intricate web of lies my son was spinning about fighting off the Krakken and using a whip to swing from ship to ship. His teacher stood in the corner of the room giggling at his story.
That was 10 years ago. The boy had charisma. He still does. Anyone who can make a group of 4 year olds sit and listen to a story that long has mad skills. He will go far in life if he can survive the teenage years. I've often thought about how engaging Jesus' personality must've been even from childhood. He was just a knobby-kneed boy when he was hanging out with grown men teaching them Scripture and law. I wonder if His voice cracked while they all talked. As a man He could attract a crowd of thousands, spanning all ages, and talk to them all day long with such passion that they forgot to eat lunch and refused to even leave to go find something. My pastor is good ya'll. He brought a message last week that made me and the lady behind me create our own cheering section. But if he isn't done by noon people start to get restless. I have feared for his safety some Sundays. And there have been weeks I myself have considered the walk of shame past fellow worshipers just to get out of the room before the belly growl became audible above the worship band.
I also think Jesus could be a TON of fun to hang around with. Can you imagine the conversations, stories, and practical jokes between him and the disciples as they passed the time traveling down long, dusty, boring roads? Boys at any age love nothing more than pranking their buddies and having a good laugh. And I'm willing to bet that the Son of God was pretty good at it. I don't know these things for sure, of course, but why would God create humor if He Himself didn't employ it? Can't you just imagine God having a good chuckle during creation as He was putting the final touches on the sloth?Or the giraffe? Or whatever the heck this thing is?
My sermon is getting quite long and I know some of you are getting hungry so I'll cut straight to the point. Sometimes we get really busy. Sometimes we plow into the crazy of this world fighting battles, drawing lines in the sand. We spend lots of time persuading everyone NOT to read certain books, NOT to slip on a swear word, NOT to have a glass of wine, or NOT to vote for the guy or gal that will ruin everything. Sometimes stand and shake our heads in disapproval so plainly that we end up pushing others away rather than pulling them in. We can quickly become known for the things we are against instead of the thing we are FOR. Jesus said, "Come to me." And guess what? People came by the thousands. They forgot about work, they forgot about lunch, they forgot they were tired, and one fella even forgot that he couldn't walk on water.
There are times when being salt and light requires mixing a dab of confrontation with a bucket full of grace. There are also times when we can put down the battle ax and say, "I'm opting out of being one sided on an issue that isn't even in Red Letters anyway." There are times when getting out of our bubble and seeking new relationships and new experiences with new people in new places will speak volumes more than anything else. If we want people in on the good news of redemption we have to be willing to present our imperfect self to our imperfect neighbors right smack dab in the middle of both our imperfect circumstances. Be authentic. Be real. Be Jesus: You can be tight friends with an atheist without using every conversation as a means to convert them. You can go to the game with someone who cracks open a cold one and still have a good time... you can even be the one to crack open a cold one. You can have coffee with your gay friend and laugh at old stories that embarrass you both. You can go to the track and take a 3 mile run with your Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu/Catholic/Unitarian friend and just enjoy the pavement. Live a life of sincerity and faith based goodness so rich in God's love that people are drawn in. Show the world that loving Jesus isn't at all about living out a boring set of guidelines that set you on fire if you happen to enjoy a glass of wine with your cheesecake after a long day.
If you're tired of the fight then it might be time to hang up your battle boots for a while. Go meet folks where they are. Tell your face and heart that you are ecstatic about the grace of Jesus, then go live life like you are. Grab some lives, shake 'em up, and bring them with you on your Redemption journey. Leave the rest behind and bring Jesus to people with such excitement that you leave the boat and step out on the water, and forget about eating lunch.
My God isn't boring.
How will your life tell that story?
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.