While listening to a podcast that was highlighting the work of a Buddhist author, I heard phrases and bits that led me to deeper and more profound thoughts on Jesus and his love.
The first phrase that was mentioned was, “this kinship with the suffering of others.” This made me think about Jesus when his friend Lazurus dies and Jesus is so overcome with emotion that he weeps. I thought about the ridicule, false accusations, and attacks that Jesus suffered from people that had such influence and power on the communities where he operated. I thought about Jesus being betrayed and abandoned by his closest friends and how that must have left him so lonely and disappointed. I thought about the humiliation and pain of the cross and facing death in such a public and torturous way.
Jesus knew suffering and knows our suffering.
The next phrase that they mentioned was “a love that never dies.” There is nothing very revolutionary about this phrase because we use phrases like endless love and never-ending love in songs and on cards all the time. What I thought about was Jesus embodying the phrase “a love that never dies.” The person of Jesus, representing love, dying but three days later being resurrected. I moved from the pop song, greeting card notion of love to a person making the ultimate sacrifice and defeating death. He truly is a love that never dies. And I get to experience that person dwelling inside me, working on my behalf, and showing me how to walk in that kind of love.
The third part that more than just go my attention was a discussion about descending into human identification and suffering rather than just seeking spiritual heights and ecstasies. The thought that came to mind was Jesus experiencing the eternal presence of God, the joy and certainty of heaven but yet coming to inhabit earth. Jesus seemed to prefer to be with the lowest of the low and didn’t require his followers to meet him on some high spiritual plane but moved down and down into humanity because that is where he is most needed. “Right down into the thick of things we discover the love that never dies.”
The differences between the Buddhist thought expressed in the podcast and the way of Jesus is that Buddhism asks the individual to achieve identification with the suffering of others, the individual to develop the love that never dies, and the individual to move down into the thick of things despite the pain and turmoil that might be there.
Christianity is making a person, Jesus Christ, the Lord of your life because he already knows our suffering, our temptations, and our disappointments. He demonstrated and allows us to share in his death and resurrection because he is the love that never dies. And Jesus is not sitting on some high mountain of holiness expecting us to climb to him but descended to us and made his kingdom as present as the next room, present even to our own hearts.
Christianity begins and ends with the person of Jesus Christ. So much so that even as a I was listening to thought that was not my own, all I could think about was Jesus and his truth.