The Light of My World
One of our January writing assignments in seminary was to choose a person from a list that we were given and answer the question, “How might this person serve as an inspiration in your life?” Well Jesus was on the list, so I chose him. I like the mental investigation that this question requires. It speaks of something beyond belief and invites me to ponder why I already consider myself to be a follower of Jesus. It takes my assertion out of the realm of theory and lands it squarely in the field of practice.
So what do I believe about Jesus that makes me claim to be his follower? From the Christian bible, I believe that Jesus lived a God-centered life. His assertions that God is Spirit, Love, and Light resonate with me deeply. I claim to be his follower because he is recorded as saying that his disciples would be known by their love. Love is the reason for my being. Love is the meaning of my existence. To live a Love-centered life is my one aim. To discover what exactly that means is the work of a lifetime. To do what best awakens me to love, as Teresa of Avila wrote, is my daily objective.
I love that Jesus lived a life of compassion in action. It is recorded that he “went about doing good.” I am filled with hope when I read about the way he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, fed the multitudes, and provided more wine at a wedding feast (albeit grudgingly). And I am challenged and motivated by his firm conviction in the necessity and power of forgiveness.
I love the fact that he struggled as a human, just like I do, and freely showed emotion. He was sarcastic when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. He was downright rude to the Canaanite woman telling her that, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” He wept at the death of his friend, Lazarus, and commiserated with Martha and Mary’s grief. He toppled the money-changer’s tables in anger at their brazen exploitation of the people. He called a spade a spade, addressing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. And he showed his vulnerability and fear in the garden of Gethsemane, pleading for his friends to stay awake with him and begging God to release him from the inevitable.
I love the fact that he practiced inclusivity, even though he risked condemnation during a time when honor was of the highest priority. He ate with “sinners” and tax collectors and hung out with prostitutes and untouchables. He identified with rebels and bucked the establishment.
I love the fact that he absolutely advocated for the inherent dignity of each person and the manifestation of their destiny as children of God. “You are a light for the world,” he proclaimed! “You will do even greater things than these,” he asserted.
And I love the fact that his followers were so awestruck by him that they continued the Love revolution, intent on building the Kingdom of God on earth. They had an encounter that so transformed them that they could not possibly return to their past existence. One touch and everything changed. Like A Course in Miracles says, “A miracle is a change in perception.” Well in this sense, Jesus definitely performed one great miracle!
I think the biggest way that I am inspired by Jesus is through my belief that he truly saw each person. He looked at them and saw their truth. He looked at Peter and knew that he would be a great leader and that his fear would cause him to deny Jesus. He looked at Judas and knew that he wanted a different kind of kingdom and was frustrated with the way things were going. And he looked at Mary Magdalene and saw beauty among the ashes. Each individual mattered. It reminds me of the song, Dulcinea, from the musical Man of La Mancha, “I see heaven when I see thee, Dulcinea. And thy name is like a prayer an angel whispers.” I believe that Jesus saw people beyond the veil of their limited egos, beholding their already-present reality as manifestations of the glory of God, even while understanding that they were living in the confines of the flesh. And this belief inspires me to do the same.
So, how does Jesus serve as an inspiration in my life? He motivates me to live a God-centered life, a Love-centered life. He arouses me to compassionate action and forgiveness. He invites me to embrace my humanity, and he validates my emotions. He emboldens me to inclusivity. He spurs me to reach my highest potential. And he calls me to right vision. He says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” In these ways and so many more, he is the light of my world.
Andrea "Ani" Vidrine works as a hospice chaplain with Louisiana Hospice and Palliative Care in Opelousas, Louisiana, offers spiritual direction from her home, by Skype, and by FaceTime, and has been leading retreats since 1999.