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Suns & Shields

By Rachelle Hamlin

Read more of Rachelle's editorials:  Suns & Shields Index page

Where Does Jesus Live?

By: Rachelle Hamlin

Fort Fairfield Journal, July 23, 2014

You are standing by a stream of rushing water in the darkest part of a night without a moon. The water rushes by you. It whooshes in your ears like a loud complaint. It’s there but invisibly forbids you to enter. How can you know what to expect? What would happen if you went in and then fell? The risk seems too great. Immobilized you wordlessly join the billions who have also turned away.

The blindness of our blindness is so blind. The dullness of our dullness so dull. If Jesus did not promise to open the eyes of the blind, to give us sight, how lost would be our lostness?

Once upon a time there was a sunburnt man walking in Israel’s desert crying, “Repent! Make a way for the LORD in your hearts.” The sound of his voice cried out in the empty sunbaked space, bouncing off the rocks. You’d think he was nuts to keep it up. But he cried, and he cried, and his cry began to attract visitors. Visitors were moved. Hearts softened, then melted and crusts fell off of their eyes. Vision spread from one to another until there were crowds pressing in on this madman and being baptized in the Jordan River into a new way of life.

At the same time a businessman was traveling on a main road when he was attacked, robbed, beaten and left for dead at the side of the road. The sound of his voice also cried out. G-d’s Chosen people drifted by unconcerned, their own thoughts were rocks, bouncing away the anguish of the dying man. A foreigner took him to an inn, cleaned his wounds, paid the innkeeper to care for him and returned after his trip to be sure the man was well. This foreigner saw him, and in seeing had compassion for his grievous condition. The vision of suffering compelled him to heal. There is a price to be paid if you open your eyes to truly see the grief in someone else’s life, to recognize that you are actually seeing yourself in a mirror.

Two things Jesus said help us to see where he chooses to live. On the cross He said, “I thirst.” At that moment He was the Lamb who bore our sins and was slaughtered for them. But, before He died, with our sins poured into his beautiful soul, he became that businessman crying by the roadside for relief. “I thirst!!” Jesus chose to live on that cross, suffer and die so that we would not have to. Everyone’s grief was encapsulated in His cry for help. At that moment, He was you. He was me. His identification with suffering humanity was perfectly and eternally sealed.

The other thing He said came when He told his disciples what to expect the final judgment to be like. He would say to some people who expected to enter into heaven’s bliss, “You saw me in prison and you did not release me.” “Whoa there,” He’d hear, “When did I ever see you in prison and not help?” “When you did not do it to the least of my brothers,” he’d reply. “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, my brethren, you do also unto me,” he also explained.

Self-centered people are lost in ego. It makes them blind to what Christ wants to do through us while we wander through this world. He is here as both the giver and the receiver of His grace and love. Sometimes we are the giver; sometimes the taker. Both conditions are the acts of a loving redeemer of mankind. Christ wants us to reach out in the darkness, to step into the cold, dark waters of misery that flows in an endless stream right before our eyes. And when it is our turn to suffer, He wants us to gratefully open our hearts to our Redeemers. Oh how hard that is sometimes! Blindness can work both ways. That form of blindness will always stop the flow of God’s love back and forth between men.

America is going through a great dark night and mine is a voice crying in its wilderness. I wonder sometimes if my words are just bouncing off of the rocks, but like John the Baptist, I have a message to speak. Today’s Christians shrink from the crucible of suffering wherever and whenever they find it. One influence that causes this is current religious teachings that promote a Jesus of bliss, sometimes here and certainly “in the good old by and by” as thousands of songs pump out a message of “golden streets of glory” at some future time. “We will see Jesus then, O what joy will be ours!” It’s awful because it makes us blind to where we can find Jesus right now.

Christ in us is the hope of glory. That is to say, He is to be found in the interaction between the brothers and sisters that are our families, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and strangers. Jesus has chosen to live in the Valley of Tears. He lives there, He works there and He wants us to join him there. Frankly, there is a lot yet to do and He needs all the help He can get. The job pays well.



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