As part of our church’s drama team, I got the text early in the week.
“Can you fill in on Sunday morning for the sketch? The girl who was scheduled has to go out of town unexpectedly.”
I agreed and received a quick rundown on the script. My director concluded with this comment, “Yours will be the Jesus character.”
Being familiar with church-drama-lingo, I understood this to mean that my character would be the straight man and the one with the right answers for the other character who would be struggling with some sort of problem or choice. The “Jesus character” is always loving, kind, forgiving, compassionate, patient, full of wisdom, and – well – like Jesus.
That particular week also happened to be a week of relationship challenges. Harsh words spoken. Unresolved issues led to a face-off, a dead end, and the ever-popular silent treatment vs. the just-get-over-it-and-act-like-it-didn’t-happen treatment.
Hey, wait a minute! I thought we were on the road to redemption!
Standing in church the morning I was scheduled to perform the sketch, the worship team lead us in song after song about the love of God until His Presence was so intense I almost couldn’t breathe. My mind, which had been mulling over the frustrating conversations of the week, became settled and quiet. Then He spoke. I heard the still, small voice.
“You’re the Jesus character.”
A heavy sigh and, “But, God…,”
“The Jesus character.”
Loving. Kind. Forgiving. Compassionate. Patient. Full of wisdom.
Why do I have to be the Jesus character in this real-life piece of drama? Why isn’t he being the Jesus character to me? I’m struggling, too, you know! And I’m having a real hard time with “just get over it and move on.”
I wish I wanted to be the Jesus character! I wish I could be the Jesus character! Jesus is all these things because He IS love. I am flesh and bone. And flesh.
“Help me, Father.”
There’s the crux. Someone needs to be the Jesus character. And this business of redemption is on-going and messy.
The process of redemption in relationships is tricky because there are still feelings involved and memories to deal with and life to be lived and recovery that hasn’t fully taken place. The work of redemption - buying back, releasing, forgiving, and rebuilding - all takes place in the midst of trying not to drown in the hurt of the past.
The truth is, in relationships we take turns being the Jesus character for each other every day. Some days you might be the straight man with all the right answers. Other days you might be the guy struggling with a problem or choice. We’re all in need of a healthy dose of mercy and grace. The measure of mercy and grace I use with others will determine the measure of mercy and grace that comes back to me.
Some days my mercy scoop just isn't very generous.
And I realize I have lost my focus.
THE original Jesus character– the One…
…Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom)
from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly His own,
people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good
and filled with] beneficial deeds.
--Titus 2:14 AMP
God – my Lord and Creator – Who said…
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
--Isaiah 43:1 NASB
Benefits I enjoy…
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
--Psalm 103:4 NLT
My part in this whole deal…
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
--Psalm 107:1-2 NLT
Have I been redeemed by God? Bought with a price? My sins forgiven? Abundant life now? My home in heaven? Yes, I have.
But I am pretty sure I don’t thank Him enough.
Or speak up enough.
Or carry a big enough mercy scoop.
How about you?