In Jesus’ footsteps
While power washing my back porch the other day, I accidentally aimed the nozzle too aggressively at the deck. The dull gray color suddenly vanished, replaced by a vibrant red cedar tone.
At first, I was upset with myself for scarring the deck. Then I realized that this was the deck. I was very pleased with the color and cleanliness. But I hesitated to pursue the in-depth cleaning because halfway was probably good enough, and company was expected soon.
Isn’t this story symbolically familiar? Something that disturbs the norm. The AHA moment telling you that what lies beneath the surface is so much better. Then hesitancy about reaching for that depth and substance. Right here is where so much of life is decided. Do we stay comfortable or dive deeper? The good … or the best?
Recently I’ve been having many similar experiences. I’ve been participating in Radical Acts, which is all about engaging with some of Jesus’ most fundamental - and toughest - teachings.
When I first heard about Radical Acts, I was skeptical. I was comfortable with my current understanding of Jesus’ teachings. I decided to engage, though. And then spent about a month successfully incorporated the letter of some of these teachings - befriending “undesirables,” living abundantly, seeking the kingdom of God first - into my daily comfort zone.
Then it hit me. I was downtown, being greeted by a man I’ve chatted with before. However, this man doesn’t dress or behave in a way that fits most people’s notions of normal, mine included. Whenever we talked in public, I was always looking around to see who was watching me chat with him.
I was living the letter of Jesus’ teachings about befriending folks not like myself, but I wasn’t engaging in the spirit and really taking this man into my heart. What’s more, I was not treating him as I would wish to be treated.
Here was my moment to dive deeper. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t about “successfully completing” a radical act. Jesus’ teachings aren’t items to be ticked off as I walk down the aisle of life. To live love means throwing out the checklists and being vitally, inseparably involved with each opportunity to see just how beautiful, substantial, healthy, loving, and loved, we truly are.
So, I began to truly pay attention to this man. I engaged with him. I let respect and love for him be the rule. We shook hands - which we’d never done before. And as we parted, he had the biggest smile on his face. It mirrored mine.
Was this a massive, life-changing interaction? Maybe not. But through Radical Acts I’m seeing that the real question is: Am I living with my eyes wide open to the immediate substance and depth of life?
In Christian Science, of course, Life is a synonym for God. So for me, the question means: Am I consciously living as the expression of that infinite joy and vitality that drives the whole universe? Love is also a synonym for God. So can I throw off the comfortable, and live so as to know nothing but Love itself?
The answers to these questions are yes and yes. More so each day since I’ve begun participating in Radical Acts in a deeper way - one that’s more connected to my heart.
Oh, and I did clean the whole deck. All the way down to that vibrant color below.
By John Biggs
BEFRIEND lepers, prostitutes, “undesirables”
Topics: Christ Jesus, Practical Spirituality