Sunday, September 16, 2007

Maudlin Musings

I am daily learning something new about leadership. Specifically about the leadership style of Jesus. I aspire to be a great leader, only in the fact that I aspire to emulate the leadership style of Jesus. Not long ago I found myself in a somewhat one-sided conversation with a rather inebriated gentleman. The conversation was one-sided because he primarily did the speaking and I primarily did the listening. His maudlin musings reached the conclusion that Jesus was not God but merely a good prophet, in similar mold to the likes of Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius, among numerous other historical figures he cited, many of whom I had never heard of (or maybe it was just his tipsy brain juxtaposing the letters so that the words came out jumbled).

I was somewhat bemused by the fact that he was attempting to bury the pain that life had dealt him, by drowning himself in alcohol, while debating against the efficacy of Christianity as the one true way to God and healing from life's hurts. I found myself thinking more than once, "WWJD (what would Jesus do)?," as I carefully processed through my response to him. Leading is often difficult as each new situation presents unchartered waters. It is human tendency to often want peoples approval and affirmation, and we sometimes seek this at the risk of compromising what we believe to be right. This was not my thought process as I contended with what I considered to be mindless rantings of a degenerate. My overarching desire was to berate and ridicule my brain-fogged opponent for his alcohol induced tirade against what I hold true and dear. This would not have been congruent with what Jesus would have done. Clearly, Jesus died for him too.

I am fully persuaded that Jesus would have loved him, while massaging his heart back to health through soothing and affirming words. Why do I believe that? Well, let's look at precedence. Follow me to the surreal, bloodthirsty scene of an unamed prostitute about to be stoned to death having been caught in the very act of adultery (never mind that some of her accusers and rock wielders may well have been men who made her profession lucrative). As she lies spreadeagled on the ground, Jesus eyes the malicious and restless crowd. He lifts his eyes penetratingly and says to them, "Whichever one of you that is without sin, cast the first stone." Their response: Shamefacedly, in loud silence, they begin to drop their rocks of retribution one by one as they retreat to the solitude of their mutual hyprocrisy. Amazingly, Jesus does not turn on the woman and give her a tongue lashing about her lifestyle choices, but instead soothingly encourages her to return to living, while recognizing that her value far exceeds what she has been made to believe. Not convinced yet?

Let's examine another account. Another nameless woman of ill repute is making her way to the well in the middle of the noonday heat. Unknown to her Jesus waits strategically by the well waiting to "ambush" her with the love of God. She arrives at the well a despised, rejected and jaded woman. After an encounter with the Author of life, she leaves the well and steps straight into her God ordained destiny. She leads an entire city to salvation as a result of her testimony of healing and restoration. No words of judgment from the Judge of judges. What He offered instead was hope and healing. So that's what I tried to do. I told my alcohol-loving friend that alcohol could only soothe the pain in his mind, albeit temporarily, but the only answer to the very real, and much deeper pain of his soul could only be found at the hands of the One the women of the above stories had encountered.

I am continually trying to emulate Christ, so that I can be like Him in the earth, so that when I encounter people like my drunken friend, I am able to look beyond the belligerence and bravado (that simply hides the pain they're trying to bury), and see them for whom they really are. Just the way Jesus does. I wish I could tell you that at the end of the story, the man got saved and lived happily ever after, but this isn't a fairy tale this is real life, and every soul matters to the heart of God. This is sufficient motivation for me to reach out and love people that seem, at least in the moment, difficult to love. After all, that's what Jesus would do!