Musing revelations about Jesus can inspire, intimidate, and move one to tears all in one punch. I had one the other day — that Jesus in the flesh is our antidote to an unengaged life. Engagement with God and man may kill us, but it’s the only way to truly come to life. As with so many other things, I arrived at this via a circuitous route…Riding the Metro home I saw a man waiting at the doors for his own stop, just as I was. He was a 40-ish man sporting a polo, beard and sagely grey hairs. I noticed that, at first, more than his wheelchair, bound as he was in several seatbelts, as he had no arms or legs, barely a waist. It was good, and bad, that his condition barely registered to me at first glance. I wondered how he got around. Who dressed him? What did he do and how did he do the job from which he was no doubt heading home?
I did not pity this man, that’s just vanity masquerading as compassion. Compassion starts with a desire to understand another’s story, I believe. As I studied him, the more his life-story, or as I imagined it, simply scared and intimidated me. I disengaged – turned to my iPod or whatever other distraction we’ve invented to inculcate us from each other.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me at that point. Jesus lived a fully engaged life. Whether he was off on his own in prayer, or teaching the masses, or whipping his disciples into ministry shape, he was engaged with God and man. And Jesus’ live of engagement killed him.
We understand intuitively that the engaged life will kill us, so we invent defense mechanisms — iPods, TV, the urban blank stare, what have you — to guard our lives. Engagement with God and man will cause us to murder who we want to be in order to become someone else, a man or woman who lives to serve God and man rather than to be served. That just feels too… exhausting, to put it mildly.
Jesus said that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies there is no life in it. Kingdom principles are often counter-intuitive to the world… perhaps we aren’t truly living unless we are dying? Jesus knew it was true that unless he engaged God and man, became someone else — our Savior — he himself would not truly live. Nor would we.
Disengagement may save our lives, but if we seek to save our lives, we will lose it. But if we choose to lose our lives, engage God and man for the sake of the gospel, then we will die to ourselves and ultimately save it.