Saturated in Serenity
In the last month I’ve walked through three situations that rank as the most stressful of life: doing our income taxes, moving through a computer changeover, and being scolded publicly for something I didn’t do. The changeover, as usual, was the one that caused a meltdown. But after my initial fit, I printed out the August 2011 wisbit Relaxing into Another Reality. I rehearsed over and over how I was being invited to move from the chaotic left side of Rembrandt’s painting to the quiet, serene right side, sitting next to Jesus in the boat. I wanted to relax in the reality of the Kingdom of God and function in harmony with it, in experiential union with God. (As I reflected on the scolding, I realized that the other person was living on the chaotic left side and I didn’t want to join him. Same with the taxes: just stay on the right side with Jesus.)
Encouraged by this, I wanted to picture Jesus in another gospel situation living in the vitality and power and energy of the Kingdom of God: his arrest. After interacting with God in his Gethsemane prayer (what great preparation), Jesus was roughed up and accused but exuded “a peace and calm which is beyond the knowledge of the world possessed Him… His extreme gentleness of manner is marvelous… full of dignity and measured reason which is more effective than hot wrath. The majesty of heaven shines out in every word and deed in this hour of humiliation.”
Jesus’ demeanor and behavior was so odd! When threatened with arrest, some people lead car chases and shoot at the police. The Roman soldiers and temple police must have expected such behavior from Jesus because they came equipped with lanterns and torches, apparently imagining they’d have to search in caves and crevices of the walls of the garden (John 18:3).
What did they think? Picture Jesus’ serenity as the chief priests who had taunted him and plotted to kill him now stand before him (Luke 22:52). Free of contempt or scorn, he isn’t sarcastic or cynical, saying, “I knew you’d show up eventually.” If he had showed signs of agitation or turmoil, we would have excused it because contempt is deemed acceptable if you’re stressed. People say, “Don’t be offended. She’s under a lot of stress right now.” Instead, he was “not defenceless but undefending, not vanquished but uncontending, not helpless but majestic in voluntary self-submission for the highest purpose of love.” That’s who I want to be when I grow up!
And, we can be sure Jesus had a right heart. How? By the way he healed the high priest’s slave when Peter sliced off his ear. From reading and experience about healing prayer, I know it requires a right heart most of all. Contrast the angry, taunting crowd with the tender kingdom heart of Jesus. That’s why these words on the cross must have flowed easily from his mouth (rather than be forced): “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus responded with this gut-level serenity and love at this highly stressful moment because he was alive to the kingdom of God. His faith became a powerful life force (knocking over the soldiers at one point (John 18:6). This life in the kingdom of God moment by moment is the life I want, and which I taste now and then.
Although recently experienced, much of the wording above adapted from chapter 8 of Invitation to the Jesus Life (quotation from Life of Christ syllabus, Seth Wilson and Edersheim).
Grace and peace,
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