A second post about “my witness,” brief reflections on truths I have learned from my experience with Jesus.
In the last post, I wrote about my core conviction all people bear God’s image and have, for that reason, ineradicable dignity and inestimable worth. A reading of the gospels makes it clear that Jesus had this exalted view of human beings. He treated people with respect, honored their freedom, and responded to their needs with compassion. He was not naïve about humanity’s potential for going wrong and doing great harm; but that capacity for evil did not, in his view, completely erase anyone’s essential identity as God’s creation.
Jesus has also persuaded me that God loves all people and the whole world freely, passionately, and unconditionally. Jesus lived and died among us to make that love unmistakably clear. He lived a life of astonishing and even scandalous openness: he was constantly criticized for, as the country song says, having “friends in low places.” Jesus enjoyed the company of people whom polite society clucked its tongue. He shared his heart and his table with sinners, welcomed the shunned, embraced the excluded, and lifted-up the downtrodden. He crossed boundaries of race, class, and gender to show mercy toward the broken and bruised. He set-aside his religion’s preoccupation with dividing the world and its people into clean and unclean, pure and impure, sacred and profane. By so doing, he redefined holiness and moral perfection.
For Jesus, perfection was not flawlessness but compassion. Righteousness was not to separate oneself from the world; it was, instead, to live in the world with an open heart and open arms. In his death, Jesus took pain, sin, and death into God’s heart. Through the cross of Jesus, God absorbed all that is twisted and torn about us and the world. And, when God raised Jesus from the dead, God poured out a saving stream of forgiveness and restoration—a stream that washes away all our wrongs and wounds. Jesus is God’s voice, God’s word, saying to the world: “I love you—I love you more than you know and more than you can ever know.”