Daily Meditations

Jesus is in the World, Not of It

Jesus Is in the World, Not of It

The Beatitudes offer us a self-portrait of Jesus. At first it might seem to be a most unappealing portrait—who wants to be poor, mourning, and persecuted? Who can be truly gentle, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, and always concerned about justice? Where is the realism here? Don’t we have to survive in this world and use the ways of the world to do so?

Jesus shows us the way to be in the world without being of it. When we model our lives on his, a new world will open up for us. The Kingdom of Heaven will be ours, and the earth will be our inheritance. We will be comforted and have our fill; mercy will be shown to us. Yes, we will be recognized as God’s children and truly see God, not just in an afterlife but here and now (see Matthew 5:3-10). That is the reward of modeling our lives on the life of Jesus!

Being Like Jesus

Very often we distance ourselves from Jesus. We say, “What Jesus knew we cannot know, and what Jesus did we cannot do.” But Jesus never puts any distance between himself and us. He says, “I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father” (John 15:15) and “In all truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works” (John 14:12).

Indeed, we are called to know what Jesus knew and do what Jesus did. Do we really want that, or do we prefer to keep Jesus at arm’s length?

Claiming the Identity of Jesus

When we think about Jesus as that exceptional, unusual person who lived long ago and whose life and words continue to inspire us, we might avoid the realization that Jesus wants us to be like him. Jesus himself keeps saying in many ways that he, the Beloved Child of God, came to reveal to us that we too are God’s beloved children, loved with the same unconditional divine love.

John writes to his people, “You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children—which is what we are.” (I John 3:1). This is the great challenge of the spiritual life: to claim the identity of Jesus for ourselves and to say, “We are the living Christ today!”

Being Clothed in Christ

Being a believer means being clothed in Christ. Paul says, “Every one of you that has been baptized has been clothed in Christ” (Galatians 3:26) and “Let your armor be the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). This being “clothed in Christ” is much more than wearing a cloak that covers our misery. It refers to a total transformation that allows us to say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Thus, we are the living Christ in the world. Jesus, who is God-made-flesh, continues to reveal himself in our own flesh. Indeed, true salvation is becoming Christ.

~From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey:  A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith