Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Great I Am

When Brother Larry preached this morning's sermon and spoke the famous quote, "For some people, you may be the only Jesus they ever see," I was reminded of two people: Dr. Neville as always, and my roommate Nikki. Now Dr. Neville and Nikki have very little in common, except that both of them have 'n's in their name and they both declare outlandish things sometimes.

One of the concepts that Dr. Neville has preached on in the past that really spoke to me was recognizing Jesus in other people. He was talking about how if we don't take Jesus' resurrection as a literal event, we can resonate with the accounts of many of Jesus' followers who met him after his death. Instead of discounting these stories, we can allow ourselves to think of them in terms of recognizing characteristics of Jesus in other people. Hence, a person may be the only Jesus they ever see.

Now my roommate Nikki, in a much less formal way, says something quite similar. For example, upon doing something praiseworthy, she will announce, "Because I am God." Did she intend to make a profound theological statement? Likely not. Did she know she was saying something akin to the Sufi Saint Al-Hallaj hundreds of years ago? Also, highly unlikely. What she did say, however, was no less true than it was comedic.

The call to goodness that is issued in the statement "For some people, you may be the only Jesus people ever see," is not what I am referring to here. What I am referring to, is a theological idea that in each of us, we carry a little of the Divine. We each possess qualities that can remind each other of Jesus' teachings, calling and inspiring others to goodness.

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