ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23)
A little over four years ago, I embarked on a cross-cultural trip to India. During my time there, I had zig-zagged across the large country starting in Bangalore, traveling to Kerala on the Western Coast, back to Madurai in Central Southern India, over to Chennai (aka Madras) in Tamil Nadu on the Eastern Coast of Southern India, and then finally up to New Delhi and Agra in Northern India. All of that packed with different cultural experiences, culture shocks, and all that packed in three weeks time.
It was both an exhausting and a rewarding trip. One of the most rewarding parts of the trip was that I got to see Jesus in a whole new light. Growing up America, I knew the Jesus of my childhood well. I knew the reverent, light-skinned, golden flowing hair, blue-eyed Jesus that taught us to love one another and died for our sins. I knew the resurrected Christ who promised would come again. Of course, the Jesus I grew up understanding was coming from my reading of Scripture through the lenses of Western art, film, church and cultural experiences.
And there is nothing wrong with those experiences, for they are very much a part of the foundation of my faith. With that said, in India I came across the meditating, guru Jesus. On the one hand the image was exotic, distinctly Indian, and seemingly foreign to me; however, as I began to look at that Jesus, sitting in the cross-legged position in a circle with his disciples, I began to realize that this, too, was the Jesus of Scripture. After all, to use the Indian term, Jesus was a guru, which simply means teacher (or Rabbi as it is called in Hebrew). Also, Jesus was very spiritually in tune with God and with himself, and he no doubt meditated on God, on the Scriptures and certainly prayed continually as a part of his spiritual discipline.
Some people might be pausing here and saying, “Hey, that sounds awfully like Eastern philosophy/religion to me! That can’t be Biblical!” But, with careful evaluation and study, one cannot help but notice that Judaism (and Jesus was a Jew), is a Middle-EASTERN religion…not originally a Western religion. The Scriptures are loaded with Middle-Eastern symbology, with an emphasis on meditation and communion with God, and with plenty of wise sages roaming the countryside with bands of followers. All of this truly corroborates the Indian image of Jesus that I saw in my travels through India.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying to abandon the way you have come to know Jesus. That would not be true to your relationship with him, nor would it be true to your personal faith experiences. What I am saying is that we should be willing to meet Jesus everywhere and anywhere we go, and we should be open to meeting him in the ways that others have gotten to know him too! After all Christianity is not about EAST or WEST, NORTH or SOUTH, HERE or THERE; rather, Christianity is about CHRIST!
Today’s challenge is for you to open yourself to Christ in ways you never thought possible. Can we ever know CHRIST fully enough? Is Christ as small as the limits of our own minds and theologies? Or is Christ transcendent of those limitations? I choose to believe the latter and, in my experience, I have not been disappointed in how, when, where and with who I meet my LORD and Savior! I pray the same becomes true for you as well!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit” – Asaph (Psalm 77:6)
Lord, open my heart and my mind to meet you everywhere, anywhere and anyway you reveal yourself to me. Amen.