Letting Go

March 13, 2023

I believe we are going through a time of great spiritual weirdness right now.  

People are co-opting Christ by using Christianity as a battering ram for personal agendas and man ’splaining/woman ’splaining Jesus’ teachings to validate whatever they choose to belief.  Jesus has been put in a ‘human Jesus box’ of sorts – His divinity limited to the expectations of whomever needs to exploit Him at the time. 

Maybe that’s why church attendance is down – the God of love and forgiveness is having a hard time being seen through all the self-righteous anger and judgment. 

Maybe that’s why folks say “that whole Christianity thing doesn’t work for me anymore.” The faith is seen as too political and the Source of the faith not believable to a world in need of Someone Who says what He means and does what He says.

The times are truly in need of a reboot – a return to Who and Why is Christ.

And now…it’s Lent….

 One of ‘reasons for the season’ is to provide a necessary spiritual reboot by encouraging introspection and self-awareness as we consider who we are and how we live in light of our Lord and His teachings; as we reflect on His great love for all of us (sometimes, in spite of us), His limitless forgiveness, and His offer of new beginnings. 

Such introspection and self-awareness can (and should) occur throughout the year, but Lent is a special set apart time in preparation for Easter – because the truth that Christ is raised change everything!

The resurrection is the boldedunderlineditalicized truth that Christ is not just another religious leader.

He is God. Full stop. 

The manifestation of the love of God for the creation. 

The in-the-flesh visual and tangible proof positive truth of God’s care and concern for all creation. 

What we may have been or done in the past – or even in the present – no longer defines us!

We say we believe these things, but sometimes it seems that this truth and other Christ proclaimed truths have become ‘holy God talk’ and nothing more. 

Don’t believe that is so?  

Look around at how many folks claim to love Jesus yet continue to judge, condemn, and ostracize those ‘not like them’ all ‘in the name of Jesus!’ 

I wonder why that is? 

Could it be that great as we believe Jesus is, we don’t exactly recognize who He actually is?

Could it be that we are like Mary?

Mary loved the Lord. He was her Master, her Rabbi, her Spiritual guide, her Friend, her familiar companion. When she saw Him in the garden that first Easter morning, she held on to this familiar identity. 

And what did Christ say to her that morning?  “Don’t hold on to me, Mary.” (John 20:11-18)

Some might interpret His words to mean He couldn’t ‘ascend to the Father’ until she let go of Him. Ridiculous! He wasn’t a hot air balloon that she had the power to tether!

I believe Christ was telling Mary not to hold on to the Jesus she had known during His earthly ministry.  Let go of the past, Mary! It’s a new day – a new life – Christ is risen!

+ + +

I am so glad this account is in Scripture. 

It holds me accountable for refusing to hold on to the One: 

  1. Who looks like me. 
  2. Who thinks like me. 
  3. Who I keep in a box marked ‘human Jesus.’  
  4. Who I casually denigrate as being no more than ‘my friend,’ ‘my buddy.’ 
  5. Who never outgrew my childish Sunday School stories about the meek and mild Jesus of Sunday School. 
  6. Who now walks around in heaven, clothed in a robe and Birkenstocks, watching me ‘here below.’
  7. Whose signs and wonders are dismissed as ignorant mythology. (Ironically, those signs and wonders are much less mind-blowing than is the resurrection which I adamantly claim to believe.)

Limiting our understanding of Christ to ‘Jesus the human’ – an exceptional human but nonetheless a definable human – is something we get.  

If we can relegate Christ to being just one more philosopher among many; one more religious leader with a moderate following back in the day who was killed like so many other religious leaders throughout history, He remains relatively safe…someone we can take or leave as we choose.  

We just can’t wrap our minds around God in the flesh and, quite frankly, aren’t sure we want to consider the possibilities. 

The thought of Jesus being something more than ‘superhuman’ has far reaching implications as to how we are expected to live. 

No wonder at some point, in times of challenge, our beliefs break down!  

The Jesus of our human imagination just isn’t up to the task of dealing with our human difficulties!  

The commandments of Jesus (Love God. Love everyone else without exception) are just too risky and unreasonable! 

Come to think of it, seems we’re also a lot like the disciples.

Before the crucifixion, Jesus had been seen as a better version of themselves no matter what they might have said to the contrary – I mean look at their behavior: 

  1. When Jesus was crucified, everything fell apart for them.  
  2. They went into self-protection mode and hid, probably wondering what would happen to them! Their dead leader was surely of no help.
  3. Initially, they didn’t believe Jesus had risen from the dead…no one could survive that execution! But then He showed up alive and spent the next 40 days preparing them for the work that lay ahead.

The resurrection forced the followers to let go of the comfortable friend and rabbi Jesus Who was in order to worship and follow the Christ Who is.

I believe, we, too, need to let go.

After all, if the One we claim to worship is no bigger than we are, who needs Him?  

If Christ needs humans to interpret the parameters of His divine love and forgiveness, then that Cornerstone He’s called is no more than shifting sand.  

It’s time to let go.

Let go of the Jesus our minds have created and embrace Christ, very God of very God, the Christ Who is more than enough no matter what the world throws at us. 

It’s time to embrace the truth that we will never know all there is to know about Christ and that’s ok. (1 Corinthians 13:12; Isaiah 55:8-9; Job 38-41).  

However, the expectation is that what we do know of Christ’s teachings (love God, love everyone else – no exceptions) is to be the guiding principle of our lives (Matthew 25:31-46) not suggestions from a life coach. 

Everything else must be let go!

It is in the letting go that we grow in our faith. 

Our understanding of Who Christ is, and the profound message of His teachings, deepens and transforms our lives and makes us instruments of God’s transformation in the lives of others. 

I take great comfort in knowing that I am not all there is.  

If who I am – or who you are – is all that we can expect Christ to be, then we are all without hope.

The good news of Easter is that there is One Who is incomprehensibly more than any of us!

One Who loves each of us beyond measure, forgives each of us without exception, and provides the space for each of us to begin again. 

The One Who rose from the dead has said so! 

And to God be the glory!  AMEN.

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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