In many science fiction stories, the bad guy turns out to be immortal – one who can’t be killed by normal means. The story then plays around the good guy, or the good guys, trying to find how to combat this immortal character and then finding the way to put their knowledge into practice and kill the immortal. If it’s a TV series, an immortal usually lasts a full season, with the good guys only winning in the last episode. Of course, the writers lead you along and make you think that the good guys are victorious earlier, only to see the immortal come back to life because he (or she) wasn’t killed the right way.
We love stories like that because we’re obsessed with the concept of living forever. If we could just find the fountain of youth, we could stay young and live forever. Since we can’t find that fountain, we look for the makeup that will make us look young. We all want to live forever in one way or another. As Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He made it clear that the way to eternal life went through Him, because He was God in the flesh. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
When the Pharisees heard that last statement, it was time to bring out the stones. Jesus was committing blasphemy in their eyes by claiming to be one with Father God. Jesus claimed the power to grant eternal life because of His relationship with the Father. The Pharisees reacted like Pharisees react in situations like that: they brought out the stones to put Him to death. Jesus reminded them that His works alone should make them believe in Him. His words described His works. No one but God could calm the sea, heal the blind, feed the thousands, or heal the lame. And those were the tip of the iceberg of the works He had done. He taught as no one else. He performed amazing miracles. He loved everyone, even the sinners! The Pharisees, instead of seeking to figure out who this Jesus was based on what He did, looked into their God box and couldn’t see how Jesus fit in. Because Jesus didn’t fit in to their ideas of how God should work, they saw Him as a heretic and a blasphemer and sought to kill Him. Jesus, as was par for the course, couldn’t be held and He escaped so that He could continue teaching.
One of the problems I have as a follower of Christ, is that I keep wanting to build my own “God box.” The walls of that box are the limitations I place on God. I think we all have them to some degree. God will work in this way, or that way, but that way’s outside of the God box. Or so we think. And while we applaud outside the box thinking in life, we get uncomfortable if God works in ways that we hadn’t anticipated, as if expecting God to ask permission to do something we don’t expect. We know that God loves the righteous and those who go to church. We argue, good naturedly in most cases, about which church Jesus would attend were He to walk on earth right now. Because we know that He’d go to church, and it would probably be ours. Only, what if Jesus were out on the streets, ministering to others? What if He were seeking to give eternal life to the people we forgot about, because “those kind” didn’t fit in our God box as people whom God loves. The message of Jesus should destroy our God boxes. He offers us eternal life, not because of our works, but because of His work on the cross. When we do it right, we have an eternal life that begins the moment we begin our relationship with Him, and is available to any who turn to Him. Even “those” people. Celebrate your eternal life by loving all people.
Oh Lord, shatter the walls of my God box. Help me to see You at work in the lives of all people. Help me to love those who live outside my God box.