“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” ―
“Walking in the mountains helps me unwind, but it also reminds me in a painful way that the real beauty in life is nature and animals, and that the human race, in all its arrogance, is intent on destroying it.” — Sylvie Guillem
Popular culture makes a big deal out of what it considers physical beauty. Every day we are bombarded with messages that we are not thin enough, or too thin. Our skin is too dark or too light. Our hair is too curly, or too straight. Our eyes are the wrong color. We are flooded with advertising for products guaranteed to “correct our flaws” and make us “beautiful.” And those of us who do not measure up are bullied, shamed, and sometimes even physically attacked. This is especially heartbreaking when it happens to children.
But I have news for you. True beauty comes from within. No one is ever more beautiful than when the light of God shines through them.
On this New Years Day let’s take a break from thinking about resolutions and how we want to change ourselves. Let’s start 2020 thinking about true beauty.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5:14-16 NIV Accessed from Bible Gateway
Jesus said “you are the light of the world.” Yes, the light of God shines through you. For too long we have focused on the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus and ignored the life in between. By doing so we have missed the lessons Jesus came to teach us about how to live on this earth. Don’t hide your light. Let it shine!
I would like to wrap up our study of the life and teachings of Jesus with a final thought.
Christmas has come and gone. But this year don’t take the baby out of the manger and put him away till next year. Celebrate Christmas every minute of every day. Welcome the Christ presence into the world by living in conscious awareness of the presence of God within us all and following Jesus our great example by living his way of life and teachings.
Dig a Little Deeper: How do you shine your light into the world?
“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” — Matthew 8: 23-27 23 The Bible, NIV, Accessed through Bible Gateway.com
In this story we see those four little words Jesus said often during his time on Earth. “You of little faith.” I can hear the exasperation in his voice as I read them.
I learned a lesson about trusting God in the middle of a storm in August when a major storm hit our community. I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of trees falling all around me and headed toward Bob’s study where he was working. When I got to the living room the lights went out and I could hear the ominous low growl of thunder and see the flashes of lightning. I could also tell the wind was blowing very hard still hearing trees crashing down.
It was at that point that I had my 30 second panic, screaming and crying, sure it was tornado and that we would die. Bob finally made his way to where I was in the dark and guided me to the couch where we sat with our arms around each other and the cat on our laps riding out the storm. As a sense of calm came over me I started singing, “blessed quietness, holy quietness…” I remember how Jesus had rebuked the storm and told our storm to “cut it out.” It finally ended and we learned it was likely not a tornado but straight line winds of 120 mph. Although the area around us looked like a war zone we had no real damage.
If we trust in God storms will be calmed. So when those physical storms rage around us or internal storms rage within us let us take a few deep breaths and remember the words of Jesus to his disciples, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
Dig a Little Deeper: How have you experienced calm in the storm?
Please take the time to watch this 5 minute video from Richard Rohr author of The Cosmic Christ.
For more information on Richard Rohr please visit the website for the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Jesus often taught by asking questions. He also told a good story as a teaching tool (the parables). I chose the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of both. This is also a message we need to hear today. It is clear, plain and needs no interpretation. All we need to do is live it.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” —Luke 10:25-37, New International Version, Accessed from Bible Gateway.com
Dig a Little Deeper:
Who is your neighbor?
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” –
— Jesus. Matthew 5:39-51, NIV, Accessed from Biblegateway.com
This is one of those difficult teachings of Jesus that we would like to cut out of our Bible’s isn’t it? It definitely goes against our Western sensibilities.
Dig a Little Deeper:
What are some ways you can go that extra mile with someone in your own life?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5:3, NIV (New International Version), accessed from BibleGateway.com
So who are the poor in spirit? The version of this in Luke 6:20 says simply blessed are the poor.
Those poor in the material things of this world have a special place in God’s heart? Why? Because they must recognize their dependence on God for their sustenance.
The poor in spirit are hungry for the things of God. We are blessed when we seek after God for not only our physical sustenance but our spiritual sustenance as well.
Dig a Little Deeper:
Do you hunger for God?