*Credit: Kaadaa, Corbis Images
Starting a new series. As many of you saw from my little outburst on this post, I am feeling far away from God, completely because I haven’t tried to come to him. Coming requires courage, that which I didn’t realize until recently. Perhaps the only reason I have clung to whatever thin thread I have to this faith is because of Jesus. The birth into poverty, love for the least, and death on a cross have compelled me to continue to search. So in that spirit, I have decided to embark on an ambitious journey to learn more about the different titles of Jesus. There are so many that I hadn’t heard of until recently and I am excited to see Him from so many different angles. More than anything, I want to do this series to keep me grounded, tethered to the Bible. Seeing what it will reveal to me, be it good or bad. Hope you enjoy!
“Jesus feels for thee; Jesus consoles thee; Jesus will help thee…. In Jesus the weak are strong, and the defenceless safe; they could not be more strong if they were giants, or more safe if they were in heaven. Faith gives to men on earth the protection of the God of heaven. More they cannot need, and need not wish. The conies cannot build a castle, but they avail themselves of what is there already: I cannot make myself a refuge, but Jesus has provided it, His Father has given it, His Spirit has revealed it, and lo, again tonight I enter it, and am safe from every foe.” – Charles Spurgeon
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1st John 2:1-2 NIV (Bold emphasis mine)
Advocate ~ paraklētos
– one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor
– “Consoler” corresponds to the name “Menahem,” given by the Hebrews to the Messiah.
Part of me couldn’t bear it. My folks had to withold my secret from their best friends in the whole wide world. Another part felt a nudge, divine you could say, although I wasn’t completely convinced it was, but anyhow, it was there. A lingering flicker of thought, small proof that the next step for me was to bring my next-door neighbors into our story.
Late one night, we invited them over to talk. Struggling to digest all this new information they, understandably, had a lot of very good questions. My folks and I had been at this for several months, and we may have spilled far too much for one conversation to hold. We may have overwhelmed them with theology and the changing Church and what books we were reading and where we were then to where we are now.
But in the middle of it, my mom said something that quickened my exhausted explaining heart. She reared her Mother Hen head and said,
“Look, truth is, none of us know what God’s intent is here, but no matter what, I am always going to be on the side of my son.”
Despite the fact that whatever I decide to do with my life runs the risk of some sin or missing out on God’s plan, she would stubbornly stand in my corner. She would shoulder me up. She would do her best to be delighted in my joy and always be ready to clean up after my mistakes. Whatever ups and downs will come in whatever choice I choose for my life- she will be my advocate, simply because I’m her son.
On my side, even if I’m wrong.
This is what crossed my mind as I mulled over this title bestowed upon Jesus by John. Looking at the original Greek there are two key words that jump out at me “intercessor” and “consoler”. The idea that Jesus would carry me close to his chest so I wouldn’t have to carry it all alone, while also fighting against every assailant wishing to throw me to the wolves. He’s like a pillar and a preserver.
The more I read and reread this verse, the more I see Christ adoring us despite how screwed up we all are. Yes, we have of our log of sins, spoken and unspoken. Nothing can hide our laziness or jealousy or our need for more and more stuff. The best of us have hearts that give themselves to so many other people and places and things other than God. Often times, I don’t express much of an interest for His company.
But in the thick of it, he says, “yes, but I have taken care of all of that. I love you, you belong right here. Lay your head on my shoulder, be at peace, I am with you.”
He is with us if we enter into a same-sex relationship or journey into celibacy. He’s with us when we wander away for a few years, because he bets on our about-face into his arms. He is with us when the world is throwing daggers and the stack of bills are insurmountable and it takes everything in us just to get out of bed. He is ready to reach into all of our shit and coax us toward the first steps to renewal. He is with us even when we are not with him. Even when we’re wrong.
Calling us saints when we live in shame. Whistling our praise when we’re singing the blues. Telling us its okay when we loosen the screws on our too tight halos.
He has already paid our portion, with whips and nails and suffocation. He has already satisfied the must for justice. To this day, he pleads on behalf of you and I. It is said that he is still absorbing the wrath, kneeling before God like armor protecting us. Nails re-piercing, whips still lashing, until the final day comes. It is also said that he is simply kneeling there, begging for God to give us more time, to not squash us like little bugs quite yet.
I don’t know if I buy any of that (mind you, I am an amateur, not a theologian).
I have to believe that since God “so loved the world”, he sent his son to die on our behalf, that the mission was fulfilled in his death and resurrection, ultimately rendering us to a life lived under the free gift of grace. Maybe my earthly mind cannot comprehend this disagreement between God and Jesus. Maybe that’s not what’s happening.
But I do believe he is advocating for us in every day that we live in this world. Against all the evil spreading its long fingers into the hearts and minds of our assailants. I believe he wants the world, each one of us, to recognize Him in the Other. To see that we are good, because he is good. To love ourselves, because there are times when we beat ourselves down to the depths of “least of these”. Despite our meager minds and hearts, always changing from fire to ice, he throws us over his shoulder because he is Enough.
He is fighting for us. He is loving us. Neither is earned, but given anyway.
Jesus is our advocate.