The Wisdom Way of Jesus
Rev. Dr. Wilfredo J. Baez
I like to say that while I am on my way to perfection, perfection in love, as John Wesley calls it, I am a work in progress. I wish it wasn’t that way. I’d like to think that after 59 years that I’ve mastered this mess but I haven’t. While my blessings are countless, I struggle with my ego. I struggle with being humble and keeping things simple. I struggle with ambition wanting more, better and different. I want to be successful. I want to make a difference. I want to do what is right. It’s a big disappointment when I put my all in something and it doesn’t work out. Yet, in the end, when I am faithful, it all works out right!
Now, I know that I’m preaching to the choir. As Bonnie and the choir members know from choir rehearsals, we’re all on that path seeking perfection, trying to get better, but we’re all works in progress and it’s a miracle when we do get it right. But somehow, in the end, we do get it right. Getting life right is difficult. We just can’t control it. We’re up one way and down the next. And just when we think we know something or we’ve gotten something right, life throws us a curve and we realize we’re not as right as we thought we were . . . we’re not in control . . . and in the end we discover being right doesn’t turn out to be what matters.
I was an expert witness in a court case. I was sitting in the court room. By the time I heard all of the testimony I couldn’t tell which side was right. After I heard one side I was convinced. And after I heard the other I was just as convinced. Right existed, but which right was right and which right was wrong? Even though that jury made a decision, I suspect that the jury is still out about who was right in that case! The jury remains out for so many of life’s issues.
It’s a universal sin; wanting to be great. Jesus overheard the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. What a thought! The way of the Kingdom of God or Heaven has nothing to do with hierarchy! There’s no lording over others in the Kingdom of Heaven. There’s only serving one another the way Jesus served us, the way God loves and serves us. That’s what this Kingdom of God or Beloved Community is about. Love reigns here, now! Wow! Here in God’s Beloved Community, love rules! How great is that!
Jesus slammed this greatness discussion as soon as he heard it. “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all. Whoever wants to be the leader has to be servant to all.” You are a great leader when you get behind people and not ahead of them. You are great when, rather than impress others you love them. This is way of Christ. Rather than win people over you love them over.
Here is a scene from my prison ministry. Two gentlemen sitting at the table I served are not getting along. They keep egging each other on. The other table leader and I keep intervening. They keep arguing. We finally stop intervening and just listen. We “listen, listen, love, love” and before we know it, the two are smiling and getting along.
What happened? We had to stop playing expert, helper and fixer. We had to stop trying to control and change them. What we did was to let them discover the way of Christ available to them. We let the two inmates air it out in the light of the gospel that was being presented to them throughout the weekend. What did we learn? When you love, love and listen, listen, love works! What’s the formula? Listen, listen, love, love! What’s the outcome? Love works!
The wisdom way of Jesus is found not in the past, in our memories and traditions, but here and now. Nor is it found in the future, in our imagining and planning, but here and now. It’s not found in being right and others being wrong, but being present. God says “Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not mine.” But Jesus says, “Father God, can we do this (his suffering and death) another way?” But then relents, “Okay, Father God, not my way, your way; your will is my will.” It’s amazing what happens when God’s will is our will and God’s way is our way! Set your intention now: God’s will is now my will! God’s way is my way now!
Jesus illustrates this for his disciples. He takes a little child in his arms and says “Whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Why this child? This child is your own inner child. As this little child, you don’t judge. As this little child you are aware of and open to the freshness of this moment. As this child you learn by discovering potential and possibilities. As this child you are simple, innocent and unassuming. As this child your only agenda is to be and to love.
Where do you find perfection? Jesus says, “Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you.” Jesus says, “I am the door. Come on in.” Perfection is here and now, in you and among us. God is here and now present in you and among us. Welcome the child! Embrace the child! Be the child! And in childlike wonder, welcome Christ! Be open to Christ! Embrace Christ! Discover God’s presence in your life and surroundings!
The wisdom way of Jesus is God’s way; a simple way, not caught up in the web of the world but freed of its conditions. It is characterized by unconditional love and acceptance. It is a nonjudgmental but engaging, resourceful way, connected to its own divine Source. It is a way available to you as you welcome Christ into your live, let him live in us and live in him. So how are you going to do it; let in the child, let Christ in, let God in? And how are you going to know you do it when you do it?