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Spirtial matters


Jesus gives sinners a new face



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February 08, 2012 - I was watching the episode "The Boy in the Bush" from the first season "Bones". A six year old boy is murdered. As the team tries to find out who committed this murder, Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) is questioning her ability to continue working at the Jeffersonian. She is disturbed by the horror and sorrow of the situations she deals with on a regular basis. At the end of the episode, she is asked how she sees her job.

Angela Montenegro: [sighs] "I draw death masks."

Dr. Daniel Goodman: "Is that really how you see it?"

Angela Montenegro: "Don't you?"

Dr. Daniel Goodman: "You are the best of us, Miss Montenegro. You discern humanity in the wreck of a ruined human body. You give victims back their faces, their identities. You remind us all of why we're here in the first place – because we treasure human life."

His words give her a new way to look at her work. They give her the strength to continue working in the midst of so much sorrow and chaos. Why? Dr. Goodman's words re-framed her work for her. She could see that she is bringing dignity and beauty into these situations instead of simply chronicling death. It is a pretty cool scene.

When I look at how a lot of evangelism is done, I think we could use a bit of re-framing as well. Instead of focusing on people as 'sinners', we could focus on people as people. We could look at them and discern our shared humanity and our value to God. That is the beauty of the Incarnation.

The Incarnation – the doctrine that the second person of the Trinity assumed human form in the person of Jesus Christ and is completely both God and man – gives us a new way to look at how we live and talk about the Good News.

Jesus became one of us. Jesus/God put on the limits and frailties of our humanity and lived among us, with us, and like us. While we got to learn about God in an up close and personal way, God also learned about our desires, fears, anxieties, and dreams from firsthand experience. Jesus touched us at our greatest needs and heals us of our greatest hurts.

I don't see Jesus going around and telling everyone that they are sinners. I see Jesus recognizing people for who they were created to be and not the sins they committed (she's a prostitute; he's an adulterer, etc). I see Jesus loving people that were dismissed as 'sinners' and 'unworthy' of a different way of life. His birth says that God believes we are valuable and loved even though we are marred by sin and its consequences. In short, Jesus gave us our faces back.

What if our evangelistic efforts were more like the Incarnation of Christ? Hopefully, we would see humanity in the wreckage of sin and its consequences. We would give people back their faces, faces that reflect the Image and Likeness of God. We would remind people why Jesus came to earth all those many years ago – Because God treasured human life.

What lessons would you apply from the life of Jesus and his birth in your efforts to share the Good News?

The Rev. Dave Gerber is pastor of Skin Ministries.

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