The Holy Spirit awakens the total reserve of human nature. It hones our energies and capacities, empowering us to fulfill our God-appointed mission in life.
They buried him in that tomb; they sealed him up, completely closed away in the box, so they would never have to worry about him again. And then three days later he was more free and alive and powerful than he had ever been before! You remember that when you get boxed in! You hold on to the one who was triumphant over every box this world can put you into!
Compassion comes from a deliberate identification with another person until we see things as he sees them, and feel things as she feels them. That’s the place to which God seeks to bring all of us.
You will be so tempted to think this is about you – and your needs, your wants and your desires. But remember it is Jesus who transforms your people and your church, not you; it is Jesus who takes words of truth deep into the heart, not you; it is Jesus who is Lord, not you.
This is what Incarnation means. Its not just our theology. It’s our ecclesiology. It’s the way we do church. We seek to make known the unknown, by building bridges. Chuck Swindoll has said, “People who inspire others are those who see invisible bridges at the end of dead-end streets.” That’s what it means to be a witness, to build invisible bridges, so that the unknown God becomes known!
...More than once these last days, we have felt the absence of the presence of God. But, in that overwhelming feeling that turns us upside down and breaks us in two, we find ourselves with Jesus on the cross, out of control and crying – “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken us,” quoting Psalm 22.
For some reason, throughout history, people of faith have thought that we can separate our relationship with God from our relationship with others. They have thought that we can pick and choose those whom we will love. We will love those we like, those we feel good about, those we approve of. Forget about the others.
The protest that is needed in a violent, fragmented and fragile world is the formation of communities of character, where the reality of grace and the possibility of holiness are taught and lived, where individual rights are tempered by membership in the body of diverse gifts.
But before ending this description of the good shepherd, Jesus adds one more quality. The good shepherd, the true shepherd, realizes that there are other sheep besides the ones that are most visible. There are other sheep ... for if we are of Jesus' flock, we too have other sisters and brothers.
I have always been intrigued by how much easier it is to destroy things than it is to build them. It takes years and months to build buildings, and when buildings are demolished, only days and seconds to destroy them. This is what a critical tongue does: it takes aim at a person, a church or organization, a project, an effort, a habit, an incident, a conversation, and it sets the charges to blow it up. What is amazing is how powerful our words can be, how easily they can offend and how deeply they can wound.