“The Jesus who doesn’t let us rest”


Genealogy research shows this window of Jesus was commissioned for my ancestor, Samuel U Zwald, who died in 1918 from Tuberculosis.
Christ Church, Episcopal in South Pittsburg, Tennessee
Photo by Katie Rea

“The more I reflect on Jesus, the more I meditate on him, the more images occur to me. I never get to the end of things with Jesus. It’s important for me to set Jesus alongside all my experiences, all that I read, see, get to know.”

Anselm Grun

I was reflecting on one of our previous assignments in my Spiritual Direction class. We were to read chapter 48 in Images of Jesus by Anselm Grun. This chapter resonated with me.

I stated in a previous blog post how we discussed our images of God. Some of us in our class, for example, grew up with a “God as a punisher” type of God. I viewed God as a companion and as a listener.

The questions on page 161 actually stumped me: “Sit quietly and listen to yourself: what images of Jesus occur to you? What notions occur to you about who this Jesus really is and what His genuine message is? What does this Jesus want to say to you today?”*

My deciphering of my image of God in this class helped to show me how much more I need to pay attention to Jesus. Instead of talking, I needed to learn to listen.

In my childhood, Jesus was always in my heart. As I’ve grown up, while I fully respect Jesus, I have shifted to thinking of Jesus in an intellectual capacity. Which, on one hand, you are supposed to as you grow up. But Jesus should still be in your heart as a Christian as an adult. How can I be a Christian since childhood and somehow miss Him growing up?

I think what happened is when I spoke of Jesus to others, they felt like I was trying to convert them to Christianity. The term “God” is a more universal language to those in other religions. I think I may have muted Jesus to others outside the church to avoid being “controversial” or making others uncomfortable. Even other Christians have different ideas with who Jesus is.  At church I feel free to talk about Jesus openly. I’ve realized I don’t want to seem like a “Jesus freak” and get made fun of. Strange, I guess. But it has me thinking.

I read this chapter, “The Jesus who doesn’t let us rest” several times recently. Jesus allows you to be what you are, but also calls you to be so much more. He sees a fisherman and sees the foundation of the church. He sees the tax collector as the evangelist he could be. When His disciples felt comfortable, He provoked them to think deeper. When they argued about who among them would be the greatest, He spoke a story and showed actions of humility and generosity. Jesus always managed to perplex them. On my high superior Christianity days, I wonder how they can have the flesh and blood Jesus right in front of them but fail to really see Him sometimes. But then I realize, 2000 or so years into the future, and we can still miss Jesus. He was complex. He was simple. He was a dichotomy. These few pages really get into the “Jesus…” who “works in a paradoxical way; He gives failures courage to rely on God” (160).  Relationship with God is at the core of this message.

Anselm Grun says, “Jesus doesn’t confirm, He provokes. He unsettles me. On the one hand He gives me unprecedented freedom. On the other, He challenges me. And I can never be content with my life. I can never say like the Pharisees, ‘Now I’ve fulfilled all God’s commandments.’”

Our ego tells us we do everything right, we go to church, we try to be good people, we may even volunteer for the poor and give money to charity, but if we do not continue to allow God and Jesus to touch our hearts, we may still miss what Jesus is wanting for us. Life can be so busy and chaotic that it can be easy sometimes to tune God out.

But as Christians, our relationship with God, with Jesus is our true purpose. Everything else will be fulfilled from that. And, yet, we have to remind ourselves when we stray away from our purpose. “Jesus doesn’t let us rest” (160). And, in a way, I am grateful for this.

What does this Jesus want to say to you today?

“Jesus doesn’t let me rest. He keeps putting me in question. He remains difficult. I find him uttering marvellous sayings which move me deeply. And I come across sayings which offend me, which I simply can’t understand.”

Anselm Grun

More Information:

Images of God by Anselm Grun 

Wisdom Tree Collective 

Christ Church, Episcopal at South Pittsburg, Tennessee

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