I was listening to an “On Being” episode a few days ago where Krista Tippett was interviewing a Jewish theologian, Avivah Zornberg. Tippet asked her to discuss the Exodus story where Moses is commissioned by God to go to Pharaoh and set His people free. Moses, however, resists and makes every possible excuse not to go. He doesn’t think he’s the right guy for the job at all.
Then after God assures him that he’s allowed to take a friend with him who can speak for him, he begins to understand that this is an endeavor that he’s about to take on. He asks God “who should I say sent me?”
Our English translation in scripture states God’s words: “I Am Who I Am.” However, this Jewish theologian explained that the actual Hebrew translation says something more along the lines of “I Will Be Who I Will Be.”
I love this. As she was explaining God’s response, it resonated with me so deeply. It’s almost like God was saying “you’re not going to label me or restrict me. You can’t put a name on me. I will be who I will be.” That’s my God. That’s the God I identify with and yield to. He’s free to do as He pleases. He will not be labeled or confined. He’s on the loose.
God is the same in the New Testament, too. Jesus welcomed the outcasts and shared meals with them regularly. He touched the same fish and loaves they touched. On the last night prior to His crucifixion, He even stooped to the level of servitude and washed their feet. He associated with the kinds of people the religious folks wouldn't be caught dead with. Jesus disregarded Jewish law completely when it stood in the way of Him healing and befriending those who crossed His path.
Jesus didn’t fit the mold of the kind of ass-kicking, militant Savior the Jewish people at that time were hoping for. He didn’t seem to give a single damn about whether or not it was socially acceptable for Him to sit and talk with a Samaritan woman. He didn’t get uptight when the town whore snuck in the back door, seeking to pour expensive perfume on His feet as an act of devotion, smack in the middle of dinner with His disciples.
So why are Christians afraid to break the mold? For many it’s out of fear of other people, even other Christians. Fear of being an outcast.
Fear of feeling like a black sheep.
Like a fish out of water.
I know that's been the case for me.
If being created in the image of God causes us to take on that same attitude and nature, perhaps things are looking up for me these days.
Join me, friends, and be who you will be.
Go to extravagant lengths to love the one in front of you, following in the footsteps of our brother, Christ.
People won't always like you for it, and they
may even probably will tell you you're wrong.