“She said, ‘Where’d you wanna go? How much you wanna risk? I’m not lookin’ for somebody with some superhuman gifts, some superhero, some fairytale bliss. Just something I can turn to, somebody I can kiss. I want something just like this.’” – Something Just Like This, performed by Coldplay and Chainsmokers
“[She said], ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I've done! Could this man be the Christ?’" (John 4:29 CEB)
There is the Jesus I love. And then there is the Jesus I am in love with.
The Jesus I love offers me salvation. The Jesus I love vanquishes evil. The Jesus I love teaches me to be a better person. The Jesus I love commands that I love others. The Jesus I love has demands on my life. The Jesus I love has expectations of me. The Jesus I love does signs and wonders. The Jesus I love is the Cosmic Christ, the revelation of the divine among us. I am so glad I have that Jesus, and I love that Jesus deeply.
But the Jesus I am in love with looks all the way through me, and loves me anyway. The Jesus I am in love with doesn’t perform miracles. The Jesus I am in love with is fully human. He gets tired. He flips out (and flips tables). He is desperate for me to see what I am truly capable of, and he struggles to get me to become that woman. He meets me at the well, and chats with me… like I am an equal. And ultimately, he is willing to die for me. There is nothing just like this.
My congregations often hear me talk about the story where Jesus meets the woman at the well in John 4 as the Bible’s great love story. Okay, really the Bible’s great love story is the love that God heaps on humanity, but that is only compelling in a generic way. When you want to talk to me about what makes me weep before God and want to be better than I am, I need that face-to-face encounter that happens at Jacob’s well (one of my most profound spiritual moments occurred when I actually got to draw water up from Jacob’s well in Israel). A woman lost and ignored by her people, and yet there is Jesus, waiting at the well, wanting something from her and wanting to give something to her. And I think when he looked all the way through her like he did in that story and still loved her anyway, and trusted her to deliver the news that he was the Messiah, over and above the disciples who were following along with him…. I don’t know how to put it except to say that every time I read that story I fall in love with that Jesus.
And every so often, there comes a song that reminds me of that love affair I have with Jesus. Years ago, Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man,” and Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” evoked those feelings in me. Today, it is “Something Just Like This” by Coldplay and the Chainsmokers. This song is special because it describes that Jesus that I love when it talks about those superheroes we idealize. That idealized Jesus is the one I love. But the real Jesus, the one that gets thirsty and offers me something for my thirst all at the same time, the one that I can turn to, the one that I could kiss, that is the Jesus I am in love with.
Maybe that is why I get so enamored when I have congregations pull together “Last Call,” our original production that sets the Last Supper in a Bar and Grill. Somehow that whole production comes to embody that real Jesus, and I remember what it is like to be in love again. When I have that kind of encounter, I can run for months on the inspiration, because I remember I am working for the one I love and the one I am in love with. Every day, I want something just like this.