|Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water… Now draw some out…’|
Christ came to create a new man in us that is divine. When we try to imagine what Christianity is, we all too often fall into thinking it is either just a religion or just a self-improvement regimen. Both attitudes fall short of—no, actually, they never even come close to—what Christianity is, and who Christ is. We hear the saying, 'God became man, so that man could become God,' but its significance eludes us.
The primal instinct of man, what was planted in us when God created us, is the desire for goodness. Why is this? As the bible tells us in the opening chapters of Genesis, as God created everything, He pronounced it good, each and every day. As creatures of God, we too are created good, and hence our deepest desire is for goodness. That's where we fit, that's our natural environment. Yes, we were made for paradise.
Yet, that is not where we find ourselves. Instead, as soon as we become aware, we find ourselves 'outside the gates' of that goodness that we desire and to which we aspire. It doesn't matter what our nation or our religion is, or even whether we are born into a traditional society or not. Unless we give up almost immediately—and that sometimes happens—most of us try our best to find the good and enter into it.
For the Christian, the revelation is that somehow God has entered into the human arena as one of us, and apart from everything else He may have done, He has become the source of an otherwise unattainable goodness, one that we can, and must, resort to if we hope to ever become good. The very idea that someone or something outside ourselves could be the only source of goodness for us is repugnant at first hearing.
We want to believe that 'we can do it' all on our own, even though all the evidence we can ever find proves the contrary. All our climbing up to goodness is a temporary ascent. The slope is steep and slippery to goodness or, looked at from the opposite direction, the slope of descent into sin and death (for here we must resort to 'traditional' wording) is steep and slippery, broad when sliding down,
narrow when ascending.
But we find we cannot ascend on our own, no matter how hard we try. Again, for the Christian (if he knows his bible), we have Jesus. He is not just the historical figure the world knows about but cannot see. He is the One standing in our midst wherever we find ourselves, or alongside us when we are alone, and we can and do see Him, always, if our eyes are wide open. What eyes? Yes, you're right.
Not those two.
The eye of the heart, which is single, through which we become full of light: those are the eyes by which we see Him. We know this because Jesus says so. But there are others for whom Jesus is not the Christ, that is, not the Messiah. There are Jews who do not accept Him, even though He is a Jew like them. Are they any different? No, they're just like us. They want goodness. They find they cannot buy it even by their devotion.
So we find ourselves all in the same predicament, no matter who we are, what we believe or don't believe about God and the universe. We all want goodness, but can't achieve it, but still try, those of us who haven't given up in despair. To return to my original question, now put a different way, who or what will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves? When we begin to understand the nature of the struggle, what will we do?
Not everyone who says to Jesus, 'Lord, Lord,' even knows what they are saying or who He is. Yet there He stands, there He walks, accessible as ever, to all who call upon Him by name or only in untaught trust, knowing somehow that the desire for goodness in us is no accident, no illusion, is not a psychological by-product of evolution, or an inherited herd mentality. And who or what Jesus Christ represents for us, He is that for all.
Lord, all that I long for is known to You,
my sighing is no secret from You…
Unknown to them for who He is, the world has invited Him to their wedding banquet, and the wine they have been drinking, 'fruit of the vine and the work of human hands,' has run out, yet the feast must go on. He is the only one who changes water into wine, no work of human hands, which He does when we ask, though where the wine comes from, few know. But we know, because we follow His instructions, 'fill the jars with water, and then draw some out…'