Staying Informed

As opposed to staying infirmed, am I right?

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5)

I find that out of all the things in my day that propel me to do what I will (not that I’m being selfwilled, mind you) it’s the love of Jesus that directs me. Okay, that just sounds a little bit too saccharine and, uh, pitch perfect to be actually true. But it is. I even have chapter and verse to back it up:

“For the love of Christ constraineth us…” (2 Corinthians 5:14a)

The word “constraineth” there, admittedly from the King James Version (my favorite) is hammered out in later translations as “guides” (I like that one), “compels” (or propels, maybe?), “presses” or “presseth”. The Weymouth translation cognates it “overmasters” and the International Standard says “controls”. All good and all no doubt apply in a little different shade that maybe speaks to a distinct way of looking at life at large. And indeed Paul pleads with the Christians at Corinth and looks to be pulling out the finest bargaining chip of ever: Jesus loves you. We (Paul, Timothy, et. al.—2 Corinthians 1:1) know this and we want you to know this. It has changed our lives and it informs everything we do (in a word: constraineth) and all I can say is go with it. It’s the purest high you could ever experience. But there are depths through which you must go before you taste it. It isn’t about some outmoded (outmoded because Jesus did go as low as one could in order to win the permanent mountaintop feeling) suffering/punishment paradigm. I feel this kind of dreamy joy and all-around rush-of-blood-to-your-head feeling is actually quite serious with the Father. He wants to raise your roof and have you affect things wherever you go with this, uh, information. But first, look at Christ:

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:1-2)

Read the next verse. It’ll break your heart. No, seriously, here it is:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (verse 3)

I suppose that would be the infirmed part right there. I intuit and suspect that some of the hesitance to “throw in with Christ” and accept Him as Savior and, in a word, “overmaster”, comes from an incorrect perception based in a subconscious image of Him as the prophecy from Isaiah describes. Make no mistake, unless you had a soft and pliable heart in first century Israel, you may not have known Jesus was who He was (and is). It says so right there, He (can I say this?) wasn’t much to look at. I’ve often wondered about this passage, thinking that it necessarily pointed to His “visage” (see the end of Isaiah 52) while on the Cross. But I think it simply points to His relatively plain appearance. But His character? His “inner man”, so to speak (see Hebrews 5:8-9 and Ephesians 3:16-17), was born, forged out of the sufferings He endured. Our simple (but not petty) day-to-day run-ins with those less-than-inclined to like us are akin to icing on the massive multi-layered (and disgusting) cake that He baked and ate. He was “despised and rejected”. Do you suffer from that? Jesus knows. He’s been informed and also infirmed. In total agony, but things changed.

“And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering.” (Luke 9:29)

Does this mean that the more you pray, that God will change the way you look? I doubt it. But He will give you something akin to an inner image more in line with how He sees you. To where you’ll stop worrying about outward image. Oh (I just remembered something)! His love. That’s who He is. And as you meet with God and—here’s the thing—look into His face, His love will diffuse into you and it will inform everything you do.