Redemption Coming to Ground

The face of Christ.

I’ve been feeling the disparity between life with God and life in the world this week. 

The world is sharp and prickly. It’s loud and oppressive. It’s bent on self-elevation and pride and status and social climbing and pushing others down. 

But life with God is humble. Quiet. Unassuming. Servant-like. Poor in spirit so much of the time. 

And then this morning, I was reading Isaiah 53 — the famous chapter that describes the Messiah, Jesus, to us in all his unexpected, paradoxical, surprising glory: 

Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?

Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God — a scrawny seedling,

  a scrubby plant in a parched field.

There was nothing attractive about him,

  nothing to cause us to take a second look.

He was looked down on and passed over,

  a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.

One look at him and people turned away.

  We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

— Isaiah 53:1-3

It makes so much sense that the world would respond to Jesus in this way. He wasn’t physically attractive. He didn’t possess the charisma of a power-hungry politician. He wasn’t after titles or fame or a worldwide platform of power.

He was here to speak truth. To embody love. To be with us in the realities of who we are. To bridge us to God. To offer us real life, which the world, in all its bankruptcy, never finds. 

It makes sense that even Israel rejected Jesus — Israel, who also came from unassuming, unsuspecting roots, too, and knew well that “nobody” status. Israel, who was unattractive and laughable to the nations around them. Israel, who lived by a code that didn’t make sense to the rest of the world. 

Israel, who decided, in the end, it wanted a king. 

Israel, who decided, in the end, it wanted to be like everyone else. 

Israel, who, in its own religious way, leaned upon power ploys and prestige and status, too.

This Israel “looked down on” Jesus and “thought he was scum.” And then led the parade that crucified him.

Life with God looks nothing like life in the world. It doesn’t make sense. It’s laughable sometimes. Its seeming foolishness confounds the seeming wisdom of the worldly wise. 

And yet it connects us to what is real. What is true. The actual ground of our being and existence. 

Paradoxically, it is where real life is found.

How is your life with God nonsensical through a worldly lens right now?