TWO friends sat together. One talked, the other listened. The one friend told her story at great length. It appeared to be a story of promises broken, lies told, unjust treatment, unloving actions. It was one comprising countless incidents--outrageous, outlandish, unbelievable behavior. There was great hurt, some anger, and a ton of despair in her telling of it.
``Now, you've heard my story,'' she sighed, finished at last. ``What do you think?''
After a pause, the friend who had been listening spoke up. ``Your story does sound tragic. But, now that it's happened, I think you should start repeating his story, rather than yours. His story heals.''
By ``his story,'' the friend meant the story of Christ Jesus, as we find it in the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus came full of love, of deep wisdom, and of healing works grounded in his understanding of and love for God. What he did showed kindness and affection for others the likes of which had never been known. He changed lives for the better in radical ways. Yet, criticism and hatred followed him everywhere and culminated in His crucifixion.
Speaking to all those inspired by Jesus' story, the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, asks in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``If a career so great and good as that of Jesus could not avert a felon's fate, lesser apostles of Truth may endure human brutality without murmuring, rejoicing to enter into fellowship with him through the triumphal arch of Truth and Love'' (p. 40).
Rejoicing she says. Isn't this the natural response upon hearing Christ Jesus' story? True, what he said and did met great resistance. Yet, reading the gospel account leaves us with a sense of joy and triumph, not sadness and defeat. It can lift the heart and even bring healing.
Perhaps we can best understand why this happens by thinking more deeply about the foundation and real substance in Christ Jesus' life and career. He wasn't just a great prophet or a good man doing one-time-only marvels. As his wondrous birth shows, the foundation of Jesus' life was completely spiritual--the result of the action of God, the one divine Spirit.
That fact can and should lead us to do some reasoning about the God who sent Christ Jesus. What possible motive could have caused God to send His ``only begotten Son'' (John 3:16)? Love, no doubt. And God is divine Love itself. He loves His own crea-tion with infinite power and tenderness. He heals and saves mankind. Jesus healed many, bringing restoration and wholeness to what appeared to be ruined lives. Though Jesus as an individual is no longer here to do such works, Christ, the God-sent spirit of Truth and Love that he expressed so fully, remains pres-ent now.
The real substance to the story of Christ Jesus lies in the universal and spiritual truths regarding God and man that his life taught. The human details of Jesus' life story are well worth knowing and cherishing, but it is the spiritually under-stood, timeless nature of his message that enables his story to uplift our own lives.
Burdens, injustices, hurts, hardships--all can fall before the power of love brought by Christ. From Jesus' story, we can see that God and His love can never be separated from a life that honestly seeks to obey God.
Our own life, lived after the pattern of love shown to us by Christ Jesus, will make his story our own story. When that happens, as those two friends are finding, nothing can shake us.