One day I was having lunch with Dallas Willard and he asked me, “If you had one word to describe Jesus what would it be?” How would you answer that question? If you could only use one word to describe Jesus what would it be?
Words for Jesus started running through my mind and out my mouth: Love… Compassion… Holy… Lord… Teacher… Risen… Healer… (These are all good words to describe Jesus.)
As he so often did in my conversations with him, Dallas waited quietly for me to keep thinking. He was unhurried. I was drawn into his silent prayer.
Finally, I asked, “Dallas, what’s your word for Jesus?” He smiled, “Relaxed.”
If anybody besides Dallas had said that I would’ve dismissed it. But he’d done so much to teach me to honor the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ and bring my life to him in the Kingdom of God. I’d read every book of his more than once and spent over two thousand hours listening to him speak. I found his distinctive insights consistent with the Bible and transformational in real life.
After that conversation I studied Jesus in the Gospels and found that in scene after scene he was indeed at ease:
- When it’s time to launch his public ministry Jesus is unhurried and goes to the desert to pray for forty days (Mark 1:12-13).
- When his family tries to manipulate him in front of a crowd he calmly sets a boundary (Mark 3:31-34).
- When crowds interrupt his retreat he patiently feeds them (Mark 4:32-44).
- When he’s in a small boat at sea and caught in a life-threatening storm he naps (Mark 4:37-38).
- When he sees loan sharks and hucksters turning his Father’s house into a marketplace and taking advantage of the poor he takes time to weave a rope to drive them out (Mark 11:11, 12:15-17).
- When religious scholars gang up on him with trick questions he speaks the truth in love to them (Mark 12:13-17).
- When he’s sweating drops of blood in the Garden he finds comfort in God as Abba (Mark 14:36).
- While being tortured to death he lovingly ministers to everyone around him, even his enemies (Luke 23:34, 43).
In all these difficult and important situations the Lord is relaxed.
Wait a minute, I bet your thinking. Jesus wasn’t relaxed when he cleansed the temple! He wasn’t calm in the garden or on the cross!
Certainly, Jesus has some very un-relaxed emotions in these and other situations. Anguish, excruciating pain, overwhelming pressure, fear, anger, and grief certainly work against feeling relaxed. But the Master shows us that even in crisis or pain a mature person who is attuned to and aligned with God’s presence can be calm, joyful, and loving.
This blog was excerpted from Bill’s Book Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke
Please enjoy, Three Ways to Grow, a free PDF Resource to go with this series.
Listen to this week’s SoulTalk:This week, Bill and Kristi partner with the Doable Discipleship Podcast from Saddleback Church for a conversation on Sabbath. Sabbath takes practice! We can be tempted to abandon it, but it is an important practice to rest in God’s power. And it can be learned over time. Bill and Kristi offer tangible, helpful tools for joining Christ in his unhurried rhythms.