Viktor Frankl, the famous psychotherapist who endured the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, maintained that to love you must encounter. I agree with Anthony J. Gittins, a priest in the order of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (CSSp), who says that Jesus' ministry could best be described as loving encounter. He moved beyond familiar reference points, broke through boundaries and reached out without discrimination to all people. He also disturbed the status quo and routinely challenged the complacent. He repudiated the notion that some people are more worthy than others and seems to have regularly called those that society deemed the most unlikely into his kingdom. His essential message was inclusion, unification and reconciliation. This does not mean everyone will come but everyone is invited without distinction.
The gentle Jesus meek and mild, of so much popular Christian imagination, is quickly shattered by any careful reading of the Gospels. Gittins says, "Jesus was undoubtedly a disturbing figure." This is why we need a sanctified imagination to adequately grasp how this boundary-breaking, healing servant of God had the courage to encounter any situation with love. He proclaimed the kingdom of God, or the reign of Messiah, to all who would listen and receive it. In doing so he disturbed people, especially the comfortable and the powerful. If we are truly creative, and filled with his life and Spirit, we too will disturb some people and make the comfortable and the powerful nervous. We may not set out to "intentionally" do this but if we are faithful I have absolutely no doubt that we will do it. Sadly, many who will be most disturbed will be very religious.
My current series of weekly articles, available by free subscription at ACT 3, deals with the call to be a radical disciple who is filled with profound imagination. Back articles are available under the tab resources on the Website and also available as podcasts. You can sign up at the site and the next issue will come to your email box tomorrow evening, February 7. These articles are longer than my blogs (running about 1,500 to 2,000 words each week) and generally along the line of a well-researched, more tightly-written formal article. I hope you will sign up if you are not presently a reader of the ACT 3 Weekly.