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7.04.2013

Introverted Jesus.

I was thinking about Jesus this morning, and I know, I'm in seminary, so that seems like a no-brainer after spending four years in school studying theology, but I mean I was thinking about Jesus. His humanity. And not in the two natures/one person kind of way or in the three persons/one God kind of way either. I was thinking about how Jesus may or may not have been an introvert. How he needed "alone time" and that after long days at church or school, sometimes I want to bury myself under the back seats of the church van while the disciples fight off the crowds, double-slap the door, and speed off in our 15 passenger getaway van.

I was thinking about how Jesus retreated to gardens and hillsides and mountaintops and boat hulls and deserts. Some think it was just his "quiet time," that we have biblical proof that a daily Quiet Time is a spiritual requirement. Some view these retreats as rare occurrences, that Jesus didn't really need that much time to recharge--he was God, after all. 

This morning I decided they probably happened more than we know. I think the particular references we have in the Bible are important to the story, maybe to emphasize God's revelation on a mountaintop or to set out the hopelessness in a storm when Jesus is sleeping down below. But honestly, I don't care if Jesus was an introvert or extrovert, an Enneagram 1 with a 2 wing or a 2 with a 1 wing. If I'm being really honest (as if I haven't to this point) I hope Jesus wasn't my personality type because then I'd feel an even stronger responsibility to look like Jesus looked and to act like he acted--to live like he lived. 

But that's what got me. We're all called to be ministers of the Good News. We're all called to be Christ-like. We're all called to make disciples and speak hope to the ravaged and value the discarded. Extroverts. Introverts. ESFP. INTJ. Popular. Unpopular. Rich. Poor. Republican. Democrat. Legal. Illegal. Educated. Non. Seminary. Or not. 

As followers of Christ, we're all called to lean into him, to follow him, to be made into his image. To be different. To look different than the world around us. I used to think that meant that we wouldn't cuss or drink or listen to secular music. I used to think that meant taking positions that were controversial in the eyes of the world. Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson were good examples of what I thought it meant to look different than the world. We stand against homosexuality or abortion or divorce because the Bible says so.

Except I don't think that's what it means. I don't think we go around picketing our disapproval with specific lifestyles or choices or sins. We don't post statuses about a fallen world's reckless disregard for Christian morals.

They will know we are Christ followers by our love. We don't stand out, we aren't different, because we are judging others; we are different because we love others. I don't want coworkers to think I'm a Christian because I don't smoke or cuss. That's great if they do. But even better, I want them to know I'm a Christ-follower because I help the impoverished, because I help give voice to those who are marginalized, because I try to find those who are excluded by our world. 

That's radically different.

In a world that creates technology to find newer, more effective ways to self-aggrandize, caring about someone else is radically different. Disregarding a need to be popular or well-liked in an effort to make someone feel liked at all is radically different. Giving time and presence--even when we're exhausted--is radically counter-cultural.

I suppose I got thinking about all of this because students at my seminary don't necessarily look different. Some do. Some don't. I don't too often. We exclude and judge and gossip and criticize and evaluate as if we're judges on So You Think You Can Dance. We pick our friends and find ways to justify keeping those groups closed; after all, Jesus only had a few close friends. We read the Bible and find ways to neutralize the parts that give us heartburn; after all, Jesus didn't really mean to give away all our possessions to find eternal life. 

And I'm sure it's just my seminary. We're probably the only ones struggling to look different, not by words or opposition, but in our active love of others. But at least this morning, I am keenly aware that whether I like big groups or closed groups or staying away from groups altogether, Jesus did it all. Whether Jesus was introverted or extroverted or miraculously both in the same person, he had huge crowds and close friends and time alone on the hillside. He had moments of self-care, and I'm 100% convinced he had moments of best-friend-antics, practical jokes, and burnt food, as well. Yet he also made it his purpose in life to find those who were left out, to bring them in, to give them hope and show them they're valued.

Today is the 4th of July, a day that American culture celebrates with hot dogs and fireworks and parties with friends. Try inviting someone you normally wouldn't. Try getting to know someone you don't know too well. Try serving a little today. Take a risk. And be different than the world around you.

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