I wrote about “The Other Jesus” a while ago. He is in so many places with so many faces it is impossible to miss him…unless you refuse to look.
Anyway, I provide some pastoral care to a Christian camp in my area and for several years I have had the opportunity to give a devotional thought at the end of their orientation week. Usually I talk about identity in Christ or how to love the kids and other campers that these young men and women will be helping in the coming months of Summer. “The Other Jesus” is never far from my thoughts when I am talking to them.
This week I was made aware of “The other, Other Jesus.” He and she is our coworker. The other, Other Jesus is on our work details, sharing a group or children, hosting some group of folks for the week, kitchen help, and a bunch of other jobs. He is lazy and she won’t quit talking about herself. He is super quiet. She is incredibly lonely. They are insecure, cocky, really funny, and/or really awkward. or insecure. They snore, chew with their mouths open, always have a better story, tend to correct us in front of others, or smell bad. You can mix and match any combination of these plus other qualities.
I’ve discovered that anyone can be cool and likable for a week. There are so many filters that keep things hidden from view. Not that they weren’t there from the beginning, they most likely were, but the excitement the coming months, meeting new people, and just putting our best foot forward make the gross, weird, icky, and annoying things almost invisible.
Then it happens…real life and close proximity rip the flimsy cover we’ve been hiding behind and reveal the real us. And that is when we have a choice to make. Will I love this other, Other Jesus?
I believe that Jesus is around every corner, but I tend to picture him as someone with whom I have little or no contact within my day to day activities. He is the sorrowful fellow that just can’t seem to catch a break. This Jesus makes me feel pretty good about my life. I like serving him because I get a new perspective on my life…Thank you Sorrowful Bad Luck Jesus…I do feel better now. The best part is that I get to do my good work with him and then move on.
I don’t really learn to love the him. I help him, serve him, and pity him…I don’t love him. I avoid him, but don’t engage him. I can’t do that with people I am serving at a job. I have to engage him. I have to get to know him. I have to learn to love him. That is really uncomfortable. It is also really profitable.
Iron sharpens iron because there is friction. Friction creates heat. Heat is uncomfortable. Without friction we do not grow in Christ-likeness. Without friction we go through this life thinking we are like Jesus but soon discover that we are just wearing a Jesus costume that is a lot like a Superman costume. You look like him but try to jump off a building and gravity will powerfully and quickly tell you who you really are behind the cape.
Each of us are confronted by awkward, uncomfortable, and annoying people at work and church. If we are going to grow in Christ-likeness, we have to engage them and not avoid them.
What challenging people are you facing today that Jesus is asking you to love?