Questions to Consider: Cultivating Discernment (Part 2)
A day later than promised, but a second set of questions to consider from last Sunday’s passage, 1 John 4:1-6. The first set dealt with the full divinity of Jesus and how to discern whether we were living in light of it. This set deals with the full humanity of Jesus. False prophets deny or diminish one or the other of Jesus’ natures – the divine and the human. Both must be believed and trusted if we are to experience the fullness of the Father’s love.
Jesus dealt with all of the limitations and weaknesses that we humans face. He got tired and hungry. He experienced emotional and physical pain. He had to rely on his Father’s provision moment by moment. What do you think these facts mean for you and your limitations and weaknesses?
1. Do you compare yourself to others and despise yourself (or others) because of skills and abilities that are lacking? If so, consider the fact that, apart from the miraculous empowering of the Father through the Spirit, there were many things that Jesus couldn’t do. (If nothing else, as a man of average height at that time, he couldn’t dunk a basketball). How can the humanity of Jesus empower you to receive both your limitations and strengths as gifts?
2. Do you compare yourself to others and despise yourself (or others) because of physical appearance? We don’t know what Jesus looked like, but we do know that there was nothing outwardly striking about him (Isaiah 53:2 – “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him”). Raised in Nazareth, Jesus was literally a nobody from nowhere. How can the humanity of Jesus free you from slavery to the world’s standards of beauty? How can it teach you not to judge others by those same standards?
3. Do you push yourself beyond your physical limits because you think your life depends on you? Do you take adequate rest and receive it as a gift and an opportunity to trust? Jesus took sabbaticals of physical rest after intense periods of work, and when that wasn’t possible, he sought out spiritual rest with his Father early in the morning. Are you running on fumes? How can the humanity of Jesus lead you to rest?
4. Do you think that you are free to seek physical pleasure however you like? At the other end of the scale, do you think that physical pain and illness rob us of our dignity? Jesus lived his entire life as a celibate, even though he surely felt the loneliness that marriage and sexuality were created to cure. Jesus died without accepting wine as a pain killer, and did not consider his humiliation meaningless. What does Jesus’ humanity therefore show you about these two key areas of ethics – sexuality and dying?
5. Lastly, do you find it hard to live life exuberantly? Do you hold yourself back in relationships because you are afraid of rejection? Do you spurn lots of foods because you’re afraid that they’re bad for you (not because of legitimate allergies)? Is it hard for you to enjoy a vacation because you’re already thinking about what you’ll have to do when you get back? Does life seem like drudgery at times, simply one day after another? Jesus lived in the moment so much that he was called a glutton and a drunkard. He loved parties, compared his movement to a wedding feast, and said that as long as he was with his friends that they had no reason whatsoever to fast and mourn. This same Jesus lives in you by the Holy Spirit. How does his way of life compare to yours? Do you think that Jesus, if he were to knock on your door, would tell you to keep it down or to ramp it up?
If Jesus’ divinity compels our attention, then Jesus’ humanity should invite our trust and imitation. He alone can reveal God, and he alone can lead you on the path of God’s children.