"Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard."
Yesterday at All Souls, we began a series on Jesus in Adult Education, which promises to be great. The beginning of the series,led by Dr. Alan Jacobs, focused on how God is exactly like Jesus.
At one point, Dr. Jacobs asked people to tell what their favorite thing that Jesus said or did was...that wasn't exactly how he phrased the question, but that was the gist.
I love it when people answer questions like that. It gives me a deeper appreciation for Jesus when people say what they love about Him. As people told the stories they love about Jesus, the woman by the well, for example, I sat and thought - Oh yes! I love that one best - right up until the next person spoke and I thought - Oh yes!
It's something we should do more often.
I thought about it a lot after leaving church, and realized that my current favorite reflects the quality of Jesus that I feel is most needed in my life at the moment.
Over the past few months, one of my dearest friends has had some trouble, and there have been times that I have wanted to rush in and put all 5'3" of me physically between her and the trouble. She would do the same for me, which would be better for me, as she's taller. We have years of bearing each other's burdens and sharing each other's joys, and the old maxim applies - "do what you want to me, but don't even think about touching my friend...."
Thus it is the story of Jesus and Saul, meeting on the road to Damascus, that resonates so strongly right now. The voice of Jesus saying "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And Saul's confusion - "who are you, Lord?" And the response - "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
What is appealing is the ferocious love of Jesus for those who follow Him. Saul wasn't in Jerusalem when Jesus was ministering and never met Him while He was alive on Earth. On the face of it, he wasn't touching Jesus. He was, however, terrorizing those who followed Jesus, to which Jesus took exception. So He smacked him down, and then picked him up, and life was never the same for Saul.
Like with most of what I know about Jesus, it's both comforting and discomfiting, because this ferocious love is directed toward me and others. Therein lies the discomfiting bit: I have to look at my own behavior toward those who also love Jesus.
I need Him to bind my tongue (or keyboard) when need be, because persecution takes many forms, and I don't want to be one who persecutes followers of Jesus. Additionally, if I want to be like Jesus, and if I am to have that ferocious love for others, it will spring from a tender love that will push me out of my comfort zone, not just for those I like, but for those Jesus loves. Heaven only knows where that will lead, but I'm sure that "Ann's Comfort Zone" won't be on the signage.
But it's still my favorite story, because I love the demonstration of His protection and love.
Continuing the words of the inimitable Fanny Crosby on telling the stories of Jesus:
"Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see.
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me."