I was at a fundraiser the other day where I met an older man who didn’t speak English. As we tried to communicate, I thought how awkward and lonely it must feel to live in a country where you don’t know the language. Later I wondered, “Did Jesus ever feel awkward? Did He ever feel uncomfortable or unsure of himself? Did Jesus ever feel “un-cool” in social settings?”
Many of my childhood memories are the awkward moments: self-consciously standing on the shore when other kids were laughing and swimming; unable to catch or throw the ball in gym class; feeling one lesson behind in school, and in social settings, too. Although I gained confidence during my teen years and early twenties, beneath it all there were times when I still felt like everyone had it all figured out but me. No matter how old I get, there are occasional moments when I still play the wall-flower because making new conversation feels awkward.
If I dare to stop and notice those around me — the random people who are the faded images in the peripheral edges of my day — I notice that they, too, feel awkward. Many of them, like me, say and do things to cloak their awkwardness and gain acceptance. Separately we strive for acceptance, for relevance, to make a difference. And in the striving, we all lose out. I spend so much effort pulling myself together that I forget to be Christ-like is to be broken.
Sometimes we work so hard to make ourselves relevant, cool, or real, that we think we need to make God relevant, also. We say things like, “Jesus is my homeboy.” Or, “Jesus is my biggest cheerleader.” We half-way apologize to those who doubt Christianity and say, “Even Jesus didn’t like religious people.” Some days we treat God like the awkward little brother who always tags along. We love Him because he’s family, but we wish he had stayed back home.
So did Jesus feel awkward? Was He, the Son of God, so “heavenly-minded” that He felt out-of-place on earth? Did Jesus strive to “fit in” or be accepted. I’m not sure how Jesus felt, but I am sure that He felt . . . He grieved . . . He had compassion . . . He loved. Somehow, His 33 years on earth were never about Him or His feelings. We are tempted to sell ourselves out — to deny ourselves — in order to alleviate awkwardness or to gain love and affirmation. Jesus denied Himself not to gain love or affirmation, but to give. He gave it all so you could be loved.
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