Two things I know about Jesus of Nazareth, the one people call Messiah or Savior or Son of God, or Rabbi, or the Christ. The two things I know about him actually go together. Regardless of what right-wing Christians or prosperity gospel Christians say about Jesus, when the rag tag group of men, women and children followed Jesus, they learned all about resistance and relationship because that’s how Jesus rolled. Jesus modeled relationship with God and Jesus led them in time apart from the crowds, time devoted to prayer and contemplation and relationship with each other and themselves. But relationship always led to resistance. They resisted the religious authorities (who were either in the palm of the political forces or were so concerned with the legalistic parts of the religion that they couldn’t see or care for people), they resisted the established religion (for the same reasons), they resisted the political authorities who were the occupying force of the time, and they resisted the cultural voices that would have tamed their actions. The bottom line is that Jesus was 100% for the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned, the forgotten. Jesus resisted those who didn’t care about his people.
Jesus led the resistance of the first century and he did it by forming relationships among and across groups that would have previously had nothing to do with one another. When Jesus told Simon Peter to let down his nets into the deep water in Luke 5, Jesus was saying something far more reaching than fish. Jesus was telling us, today, that we have to choose between the shallow and the deep waters. The shallow waters are safe and sometimes even familiar. The deep waters are risky, unknown, and potentially deadly. Choosing deep waters is what Debby Irving, author of “Waking Up White”, would call “Engaging.” She writes, “Prepare yourself to adopt an “I don’t know what I don’t know”attitude. The sooner you can become comfortable seeking what you don’t know, as opposed to proving what you do, the more you will learn and the more effective you will become as a racial justice advocate.” (p. 252) We can insert any number of injustices into that space as we seek justice on a variety of fronts. The point is that going deep means living in a space of discomfort as we seek to learn about what we don’t know.
May we have the courage to choose the deep waters in the living of these days. May we have the wisdom to root ourselves in contemplation. May we follow Jesus as we develop relationship at every level and then work together in resistance. Jesus didn’t resist just to resist. Jesus led the resistance because people’s lives were at stake.