I would never be like her.

Or do what he did!

In some conversations, people begin their bit of dialogue by informing others what they’re not.
“Even though I’m not [such-and-such], I think that…”
I want to be like, “Dude! Why discredit yourself needlessly?”

But.. I do it, too.
Sometimes I even think I’m showing honor by my words.
“I think it’s great that you guys are taking our kids to that event, because you can model really appreciating…”
Wow, did I just say, “I don’t appreciate the same entertainment you do?”
(Shoulda said, “I’m kinda awkward, and have no idea how we should conduct ourselves in public places. Including movie theatres.” Because even that would have been better.)

Sometimes we say we realize we can’t really imagine “what it would be like” for someone.
Sometimes we reallllly feel compelled to reassure people that we aren’t committing this or that sin.
I wonder when the last time I was guilty of that one was! Yesterday?

But what sounds really scandalous?
Listen closely; maybe this should be whispered:

Jesus was BAPTIZED.*

Remember what John’s baptism was for?
“a baptism for the repentance of sins”
No wonder John was so shy about dunking his cousin under the water!

Okay, I love that image… I’m imagining people just horsing around in a friendly way, trying to dunk each-other’s heads under the water at a pond or something.

I’m coming back..
“a baptism for the repentance of sins.”
Done to Jesus, the Holy and Righteous One.
“The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”
Wow, John the Baptist (some people call him “John the Baptizer”) …he had THAT line too.
No wonder he was so stunned. (Pretty sure I’d freak.)

But what good is all this?
Well, here is where I go in my mind:
My pastor has (more than once!) told a tragic story of an old atheist who, at the end of his life, said, “Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence!” [citation needed]
I imagine a situation where that idea gets “flipped around” and someone instead says, “Wow, Lord, you sure had me fooled!”
…because it was revealed that Jesus is not “just another sinner,” but someone far greater.
And, especially, PURER.

Christ has gone to such lengths for us, emptying himself of the appearance of glory.
We can bear a little awkwardness that comes from people thinking we’re “worse than we really are” in one or two areas.
Then we will identify with others.
And our love will increase.

* I didn’t figure this out myself.
I was blown away by Ajith Fernando’s analysis in “Identifying with People,” Chapter 1 of “Jesus-Driven Ministry.”
A bit of background on Ajith Fernando: Ajith Fernando’s thing is super-Gospelated, scripture-driven incarnational ministry!  err, I mean… he’s a pastoral youth worker passionately serving God in intense contexts in Sri Lanka.
He writes about Jesus, and how we can survive and thrive amid the joy and anguish of taking up crosses and obeying God.


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