There was a teaching at my ministry yesterday. My professor was speaking and sharing, a wise man who shares in a way that is a gift to this world, or at least to me. He talked about Jesus in the margins, a God who comes close to the broken. In theory, this is what I say that I believe and in word, try to follow. But then he detailed this concept and outlined what Jesus in the margins looked like: a God who was uncomely, as my nutritionist often described, and not handsome by any definition. He was not attractive or popular, and he is described as being outside of the city gate in the Bible. That meant that he drew near to the lawless, the prisoners, the poor, the ones who go out and partied, the alcoholics, and those with disabilities. He loved to be with those who were outcasted by society, and not just in the nice and kind sense of wanting to feel like a good person, but in a way that overflowed from the heart of His Father.
And when I think about Him, it reflects the image of me. I do not want to be with the lawless, in truth, I love rules and following them makes me feel better than others. Truly, service hours sometimes become a burden and something I have to do, and not wholeheartedly. Mostly in my roles and positions am I more concerned with the titles and positive reinforcement from others than the relationships and the people of service. My teacher taught about how Jesus, historically and biblically, was a man of radical love. He wasn’t one who was prestigious, but who went among the people, to be with them. he wasn’t one who had the nicest clothes or the fanciest place to reside, but was a refugee, his family fleeing for his very life as a little boy. He drank wine, alcohol, went to parties, and ate and drank freely. Jesus was this beautifully dynamic and wonderfully loving man, but that looks a lot different than the perfectionism I have tried to build my life around; ironic because Jesus was perfect, that I haven’t thought to model my life after His. And that perfection begins inwardly and works its way to the outside, something for me to think about..
As a little girl, I always loved God. The nice and sweet image that I exuded to others was of great comfort to me. And even to this moment, perfection is a source of great joy to me. When things are organized and together, it is then when I feel that God is the most pleased with me. When I am looking down upon others for their lack of control and wrongdoings, it is then that I look away from my own idolization and sinfulness. And when, oh dear, beginning a sentence with and… but when I really think about what it means to follow Jesus, it is radically different than my current state of being. Because following Him would may mean leaving behind my obsession with clean eating, thinness, and perfection, and instead leaning deeply into rest, the fact of my own deep brokenness, and grace.
It would look like reading those parts of the Bible that talk about judgement and of which I looked away for so very long in fear. It would mean taking others and myself off of the pedestals which I have conjured up in my own head, breaking down the double standards I hold for myself and others, and being okay with failure. It would mean really accepting the Gospel that I cannot be perfect, and really desperately am in need of grace. And most of all, it would mean surrendering all of this crazy mess to the Lord, and letting Him work through the team around me to, not make me perfect, but to abundantly receive this gift that we call life and to be poured through as an offering to Him and as a gift to this world.