In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on something unique about the man whose birthday we celebrate today. His name is Jesus of Nazareth, and he was a man of unbridled strength and courage. He was grounded in his purpose and mission throughout his life, and he knew what he was sent to do even at the cost of his own life. This knowledge from within allowed him to demonstrate some truly phenomenal characteristics that we don’t see too often around us anymore in our modern society, which include the following:
1) He stood firm in the face of oppression and rejection: Regardless of who oppressed him or denied him of all his beliefs, Jesus moved on because he was grounded within himself and he knew that his purpose was greater than the ideas and beliefs of those who rejected him. He knew that what he was preaching to others would set them free and strengthen them to face the challenges that confront each of us everyday in reality. He poured out his soul to those who listened, as he was unafraid of the judgment of others. As the saying goes, a lion does not lose sleep over the opinion of sheep. I think Jesus was the living embodiment of this statement. I mean, the guy walked into a temple and flipped the merchants’ tables because he was so disgusted by the sight of how they had tainted the holy place of worship. In short, Jesus didn’t give a sh** about other peoples’ opinions because he had a higher cause to live by, which carried him through until his sacrifice on the cross to die for all of our sins once and for all.
2) He loved his enemies: Jesus was able to love others unconditionally. He did not require that others prove themselves to him (much like our modern-day bosses do); however, he simply requested that people humble themselves and admit that they can be wrong once in a while. We are not perfect, and this is all we need to admit in order to let go of our pride and self-righteousness. Jesus loved the poor because they were able to humble themselves. On the other hand, as it goes, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than it is for a rich man to enter the gates of Heaven. This is because rich people cannot let go of their material wealth and the status/respect that accompanies it and their achievements. Yet still, Jesus loved these people because he knew that they could be brought low by love. He killed them with kindness, and that is the way we can all live. When the rich gave Jesus a hard time (to put it extremely lightly), even to the point of death, Jesus understood that, by loving those who oppressed him, he would be doing God’s will. For any of you who may have read the Bible, the Old Testament seems like a long-winded way of a father to punish his ignorant son. However, when you get to the New Testament, our command is summed up very nicely as such: we have been put here to love each other according to our own will because that is the will of God. Do unto other as you would have done unto you. While I could write a treatise on the power of love, I will simply say that love is the expression of our innermost strength and power. It is the ultimate power within us, and we are all capable of accessing it. While you may bench press 300lbs, it requires an entirely new and different strength to love other unconditionally because we are trapped into thinking that we can only love those who do things for us or who are nice to us. This is both immature and wrong. We must love each other for the sake of our united humanity and our shared daily struggles. We must support one another through our life, which only happens once. It’s an attitude that allows us to make our and other peoples’ days better. When you realize that every one in two people have suicidal tendencies and that depression grips hundreds of millions of people around the world, AND the fact that we all confront the trials and tribulations inherent in everyday life, I think we owe it to ourselves and everyone else to love from the depths of our hearts and make the world a better place, one person at a time.
3) He did not associate with any one group of people: Jesus did not hang out with a certain group of people. If he did he would be the biggest hypocrite of all time, preaching unconditional love but only associating with one particular group. Although Jesus said he came for the poor, I believe he meant that he came to save and redeem all who re poor in spirit. At table, Jesus ate with rich merchants and poor beggars simultaneously, and this allowed him to bring them together through boundless love that he used to silence the judgment that both groups put on each other. Jesus did not care where you came from, but where you are going. Life is a journey and we must live in the present moment to understand each day where we are going with our lives and how are current actions are either taking us in a direction toward self-improvement or self-harm. Whether you’re rich or poor materialistically, whether you have a “degree” or you have a “respectable career”, none of it matters if you are not loving others and treating them with respect whether they are homeless or your boss. Don’t be picky-choosy about those who you want to be with. Instead, realize that everyone has something wonderful to share, everyone goes through hard times, and we all deserve to love and receive love. Whatever you give to others will be returned to you, so send love and you’ll receive it back tenfold.
4) He forgave others unconditionally: Jesus was able to forgive his enemies, even at his death on the cross, asking God to forgive them “for they know not what they do”. When someone acts against you, whether intentionally or accidentally, do not find ways to get revenge on them (as easy as it may seem to do). Instead, give them the benefit of the doubt (i.e., forgive them), by putting yourself in their shoes. Remember that is they’re judging you that they’re judgment is a projection of something occurring within them. So if they’re judging you then it means that they have unresolved issues that need to be worked out in their own life (a.k.a. let it drop because they have bigger problems and they’re not even aware of it). Also, if someone acts against you, try to understand their life circumstances. Maybe they’re going through hard times, maybe someone close to them died, you know? Try to be empathetic and live accordingly because it will allow you to develop patience beyond measure. Sooner or later you’ll develop the resilience to face any critic without getting boiled up underneath the skin.
In your everyday life, remember these acts of inner strength and try to live them out. We can all make the world a better place without making that out to be some dreamy fantasy. By finding your purpose and standing against oppression/rejection, by loving and forgiving others unconditionally, and by associating with everyone, both rich and poor, we can exercise our inner strength and thereby make everyone’s days better. Remember two things: the golden rule, and what you give comes back to you like a boomerang. So go out there and love others from your heart. We are called to love, so let’s fulfill that basic purpose.