Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
– Jesus, Luke 17:33
Tradition tells us that Jesus stumbled three times on the way to his crucifixion because of all the damage caused to his body. His perseverance to walk under such extreme circumstances gives perspective and depth to how he endured relational strains and betrayal.
Too often we brood over our stumbles as if they defined us. This is one of the reasons the gospel actually is Good News: we are not identified by our stumbles and failures, but by our being made in God’s image. Jesus didn’t see murders or a-holes as he was being terribly mocked, tortured, and killed. He saw people who had no idea who they were, who he was, what they were doing, and why it mattered so much. What is even more outstanding is how their actions didn’t rob him of his clear vision of their Greater Reality. Instead, he prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
The message behind Jesus’ falling is in his never staying down or giving up. He didn’t treat his own stumbling and physical weakness as his identity. Nor did he treat other people’s stumbling or moral/physical/spiritual weakness as their identity. He got back up, picked up his cross, and moved forward with all of those around him.
Jesus remains in our midst and within us. When we belittle others because of their weakness and refuse to identify them beyond our judgements of them, we stand next to those who belittled Christ and acted out of severe subconscious ignorance. The same also applies when we belittle ourselves and refuse to see our True Identity.
Shame plays too large a role in how the Church operates. As we stumble, we need only remember that we must have forgotten who and Whom’s we are and then return to thinking and living accordingly. We need to stop seeing our ideas of who ourselves and others are and start seeing God’s idea of who we are.
“Christ Jesus, grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” (Psalm51)