This week we're prepping for Jesus's birth by celebrating big moments from his life.
I angrily stormed to our basement and flipped on my new Star Wars arcade game.
Yes, I’m 47, and I bought myself a video game. If you think I’m too old for video games, I understand your point, but please keep in mind the Xbox controllers have too many buttons for anyone over 40.
Plus, I was justifiably furious about my college football team losing to boring old Utah for the fourth year in a row (c’mon CU). I decided to get revenge by ensuring my name occupied the top positions on the Star Wars leaderboard. That’ll show ‘em.
At the critical moment of the game, my kids ventured downstairs and interrupted my concentration. I snapped at them, because I tend to blow up more than the Death Star.
Do they not realize what’s at stake here?
A More Important Leaderboard
Good news: I am firmly atop the Star Wars arcade leaderboard.
Bad news: I’m clearly not always atop our family’s “Emotional Maturity Leaderboard.”
Emotional maturity… It’s not just a “religious, ethical exercise.” Barf. The consequences have higher stakes than that.
Our emotional maturity is directly correlated to our ability to love.
Love isn’t a game of manufacturing warm fuzzies. Authentic love is “not desire… but willing good for others” (Dallas Willard). Love works actively to see others thrive, even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). That's the understanding of love underpinning God’s plan to introduce the world to Jesus (John 13:35).
The more I want to participate in God’s plan = The more I need a healthy emotional life.
Jesus’s Emotional Maturity
Jesus’s emotional maturity was tested when he received terrible news.
King Herod, delivering on a foolish promise made during a wild party, beheaded Jesus’s relative and ministry forerunner, John the Baptist. Jesus and John were very close, and the news hit him hard.
Jesus did not cope by shooting down Tie Fighters, but he did need time to process:
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone… - Matthew 14:13, New Living Translation
Being emotionally mature doesn’t mean we saddle up our smiley face and keep riding.
Jesus’s healthy approach includes processing the news, but not with mindless activity or a sprint to the refrigerator for stress calories. He began a conversation with the Father.
Now For The Real Test
But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns.(v.13b)
Can’t a guy who just lost a great friend get a moment of peace? Apparently not, if you are Jesus. If he were me, the story would continue:
Jesus saw the huge crowed as he stepped from the boat, and he yelled at them, “Stop following me! Can’t you give me one stinking minute to myself?!?!” – Matthew 14:14, JBV
That’s the Jim Bible Version (JBV). Thank God it doesn’t exist. Here’s how the story actually unfolded:
Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. – Matthew 14:14
When faced with an annoying interruption, Jesus reflexively responded with compassion. He is “willing good,” even for the people he doesn’t know. We see in Jesus both the permission to mourn and the strength to act.
His emotional maturity led to love.
Jesus Has Emotional Maturity… For YOU
You might read the preceding paragraphs and start thinking the “moral lesson of the day” is to have patience or be nicer or something like that (Yawn).
That’s not my point.
On this Christmas week, soak in the implications of Jesus’s emotional maturity for you:
He’s not impatient with you.
He’s not annoyed by you.
He doesn’t want space away from you.
He’s not disappointed in you.
He’s not bored by you.
He’s not rolling his eyes saying, “Figure it out.”
But Jesus IS actively willing good for you, today. And tomorrow. Love in action.
Do you believe that?
As we approach his birth, let’s celebrate these (not so) small moments from life this week. In addition to the cooing and crying, there was a beautiful heart lying in the manger. Love him for it. And be sure to tell him as much.
Jesus shows us unbounded love; even to those of us who find themselves atop the wrong leaderboard.
Today's post is inspired by one of the best books I've ever read - Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. No, I do not get any money if you buy it. Please like, comment, and share with others! See you tomorrow! JC - firstname.lastname@example.org.