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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Mystery of Persons

The Mystery of Persons.

I wrote earlier about the fact that I am praying about loving Northampton and the people of this city. I need Jesus to give me his heart in the matter. Jesus lamented over Jerusalem. He loved the city and its people. He gave his life for it and for all the nations of the world. He has put me in this city. I need his heart for it.

As I have prayed, something unexpected has been happening in me. I am not sure I can explain this adequately, but here goes. God is showing me sometimes as I look at people the deep mystery that is a person. I understand more clearly the reality that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I join David in exclaiming, “what is man that you are mindful of him?” We are a “royal priesthood,” “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,” “sons of God through faith,” “heir(s) through God,” and “children of promise.” Our status is elevated beyond mere existing in the here and now.

Every person we see is an astonishing mystery: flesh, bone and spirit—temporal while eternal. Do we really grasp that? Most times, we just categorize and label people from what we see and assume about them to “get a handle,” on who they are, but we miss the gift, a chance to glimpse the unique and numinous living just below the surface. When we catch that glimpse, we “see” into them as God must, I think.

Here’s what’s been happening to me. I will be counseling someone or see them on the street, and suddenly I am briefly aware of the extraordinary being I am looking at…just for an instant. I don’t try to do it. When it happens my eyes will well with tears or I will see exquisite beauty beyond our physical idea of what that is. The glimpse lasts only for a few seconds, but the effect lingers. I am struck by the mystery of what is at the heart of being a person.

I am struck by the fact that persons are God’s creative idea, the exuberance of God’s love and astounding insight. We bear his image encloaked in flesh, personality, race, gender, imagination, will and mind. In him, we live and move and have our being…our person. In him, we are inextricably connected but free to choose as if it is all about us. We can even reject our Maker and pretend he is a fantasy.

We are the “crown of creation” able to destroy and create horror for others without mercy, or we can dry tears, bind wounds, free captives, feed the hungry and change the world. We are an enigma, a puzzle to each other and yet God breathes life every instant to each of us whether we are vicious tyrants, impenetrable narcissists or angels of mercy. What we do is this life for good or evil does not lessen the mystery. It remains until the end when we are revealed as we truly are.

From what I have seen, I know a little more clearly why God became one of us. He gets the mystery and wonder of who he has made. He has lived it, died for it and set us toward freedom, if we choose to see him. Jesus became one of us that we might become like him…the mystery is completed and perfected, or wasted and lost forever.

So God let me “see” behind the screen a few times and my heart softens. I find I cry more easily these days because of the sheer beauty of those I love, and the sadness of the world with its jangling hatreds that shred people with no remorse. I see the miracle of persons. It leads me to wonder more and more how I can motivate them to be found by this Jesus, the Author of this mystery of all persons. I know such finding will make the mystery of who they are luminous, “shining like stars” amidst the spiritually near-sighted who have no idea of who they are, or for some, gave up caring long ago.

Question: Do you “see” this mystery in you, and those around you? If not, ask Jesus to open your heart and your eyes to see what he sees. You won’t be the same after that.
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