As Christians and investigators of faith, we tend to believe that character defects and deficits would miraculously be resolved by our relationship with Christ. However, that could not be further from the truth. Emotional immaturity, ego, and pride are dismantled not by happenstance, but by the effort we exert towards modeling Christ’s character. It’s in this journey with Christ and by developing a depth for emotional maturity, that we as believers and seekers can grow out of the deficiencies of our human nature and love authentically and genuinely as Christ did.
There are moments when we are toxic to ourselves or to others, which often are our flaws and self-centeredness on display. Therapy is a tool to help us better understand why we resort to toxic patterns of behavior, but it cannot completely rescue us from our sinful nature. We can look only to Jesus for salvation from ourselves because even if we pity ourselves by making excuses for the ways we harm others, his Truth doesn't allow sin to go unaddressed. Instead, He forgives sin and moves us beyond the question of self-help and towards the conversation of how our flawed selves can be redeemed through His grace.
In the "already but not yet" kingdom, God continuously makes his presence known, often by calling us into action. However, due to the brokenness of the world, we may face well-justified fears in heeding that call. After all, the Christian disciple Ananias had to quell any fears of arrest or even death in obeying God's call to visit Saul, who was infamous at the time for persecuting Christians. However, after Ananias's visit, in an astonishing and miraculous turnaround, Saul immediately began to preach the good news of the Gospel. If we trust God with our fears and nevertheless obey his call, then God can use us to make amazing things happen.
At the times that we endeavor to make significant changes in our lives, the cacophony of our negative self-talk can frequently sabotage our efforts. We strive to make these changes happen by stubborn willpower and technical measures, yet change is elusive and we find that hope is often all too frail which leaves us in isolation and without support. How can we move away from the harassment of our negative self talk to genuine soul care? By the example set by the interaction between the blind men and Jesus, we discover that our coping mechanisms in isolation fall short of what is made possible through community, that hope is restored in our battle against determinism, and that our conversations with the Father can prove to be that much more miraculous than what our self-talk can accomplish.
The paradox of the "already but not yet" kingdom of God is that through Jesus the Father has already redeemed the world, and yet we live with daily reminders that our world is still broken. Amidst continual pain and suffering, we question whether God really is present and moving in our lives. More so than simply conceptualizing the gospel, we yearn for tangible experiences of God's grace and mercy. But even when we don't see it, tangible experiences of God's power exist all around us. We can choose to believe in His power and the work He is doing, and in doing so we cultivate a mustard seed of faith that can grow and blossom and overflow beyond our imagination.
The question, “How are you doing?” is a disjointed phrase in light of modernity. What could be the most important question we can ask one another is often perceived as the most perfunctory in society. However, the social convention we can adopt and glean wisdom from through Jesus’ encounter with the man with leprosy is one that carries seismic implications and enormous impact. To create the space and the time to say the most important yet difficult things come in the form of small gestures - ones that are touched with love and rife with understanding.
Today, 2000 years after the resurrection, Jesus's mission has not changed. Then, now, and always, he will pay the dearest of costs to reach out to even one lost sheep and lead them towards the kingdom of God. What has changed, however, is what the world values. In an act unbelievable at the time, Jesus, a king, out of love, sacrificed himself for slaves and sinners, paving the way from a world where kings boast about power and conquest, towards one where we fight for the underprivileged. Thus, from Jesus's sacrifice and resurrection we find our calling, to join in and spread the love that God has graciously given, and to help find the lost sheep.
When we ponder the roles and responsibilities we undertake in our families as we all age, we first consider how we navigate our primary devotion to the Father and the biblical family we are adopted into. Within the tension of filial piety and our gospel representation, our ethnic and cultural frameworks are not simply done away with, but redefined by the intervention of Jesus and reshaped by the perspective of the gospel. Where we find ourselves in the family of God and as a representative of the imago dei within our family unit, the good news of the cross serves as the peace that reaches between all of our relationships.
Jesus' resurrection changed the course of history, but it didn't solve our day-to-day problems or transform people overnight. Much like the disciples in the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion, we still live with daily tensions, ambiguities, and doubts. But what the Resurrection really tells us, rather than the answers to all our questions, is that God is writing a narrative for the world - one that gives hope and meaning to our otherwise seemingly futile lives. The Resurrection and its aftermath teach us the significance of praying with our eyes open: that if we earnestly seek out God and ask Him to reveal Himself, we will see that God is here, He is always moving, and He is working extraordinary miracles in our lives.