Hands of Grace

"Passionate, personal and shot through with the kind of humour I would have expected from this man, these pages offer a hand of companionship and hope to all those who feel shattered and alone, either because of what they have done, or because of what others have done to them - or both...I commend this book to you."

Adrian Plass

Hands of GraceHands of Grace Back

 

Forward from the Book


Do you remember the song: “What if God was one of us?”

It asked the very simple question, if “God” was “one of us” what would you expect of Him? How would you react if you knew that “He” worked in the city, caught public transport to and from the office, went for walks in the park and ate regularly with his friends in his favorite cafe. Imagine if God worked “part-time” in your office, or served behind the counter of the local butcher shop. As I write, an electrician is replacing some lights in our house. What if he was God? Would that change our concepts? Would that change our spirituality?

“If God was one of us” what would he be like?

Would we notice Him?

It is amazing that this song was written and it’s questions asked, when Christmas is still celebrated every year. Does this mean that the impact of the true message of Bethlehem has been totally lost on us.

God was “one of us.” He was a stranger walking home along suburban streets every day passing simple folk, just like you and me, as they all made their way to and from work. He was part of the “everydayness” of life. He was bumped into, he was sat beside, he was heard, he was interrupted, he was questioned and he was answered. He laughed at other peoples jokes, he told stories, he sang and danced, he lived with us, a “normal” man in a “normal” world. He had a mother and a father, sisters and brothers, aunties and uncles, friends and enemies. In between the miracles and the teachings was a life that was just like any other.

How strange.

God was one of us!

He was a man called Jesus, who came to live with us, eat and drink with us, walk with us and talk with us.

As we read about his life we discover that Jesus came to ordinary men and women as if he was on a mission to find them, personally. He was not found in a large office, served by an army of secretaries with “planner diaries” and laptops. He wasn't captive to an appointment book full of influential “contacts” that had been set up for him by a suitably connected Public relations firm. Jesus breaks out of the expectations we would all have for any important figure. He is the greatest “figure” of all time, and yet, he is the strangest.

He chose the hour of his birth. He chose the town of his childhood. He chose the circumstances that framed his reputation. He walked from town to town as if he was personally looking for people that he knew were there. Some he spoke to, some he healed, some he disappointed and some he chose. These chosen men would become his disciples. They were not influential, although it does appear that the four fishermen were not poor. His disciples were not the graduates of the colleges that raise world leaders, for whatever qualified them to this calling would have rendered them unsuitable to the world. Jesus comes to us, you and me, John, James, Andrew and Simon Peter. He makes his way, almost unannounced and unnoticed, into our day to day living. He joins himself to us, loving us from time eternal past, as we learn the faith to join ourselves to him, as we learn to see him as he really is.

Is it this part of Jesus that makes him so “unexpected?”

The role that we would have God to play is much more public, much more powerful and influential. The Jesus that I have heard preached is sometimes like a football star, other times like a Rambo. I have heard him preached as the Great musician, probably preached that one myself, the great conductor, the great charismatic personality that, with one wave of his magic wand, makes everything better, so that everyone can live happily ever after. He is the inspiration of songwriters, the subject of books, the Answer of prayers, the bestower of blessings. Jesus has “spoken” to us through the mouths of evangelists, promising the rewards of “partnerships”, he is presented as the vindicator, the victory maker, the fullfiller of all our needs, the one who easily fits into our lives asking nothing more than our tithes and offerings! “He” has led crusades, “He” has planted bombs, “He” has murdered dissidents “He” has started political parties, “He” is the most misrepresented historical figure of all time.

We have to prepare ourselves for the true reality of God. The “reality” that only God can reveal. The Jesus that we have preached may not appear, just as the Messiah that Israel expected, also refused his role. I find it impossible to believe that we are “wise enough” to fully describe God. History shows us the opposite. We cannot even agree to love each other and this is the first evidence of “being his disciples!” I firmly believe that, if He came to you and me today, we would struggle with his identity just as much as Israel did.

Jesus, the Prince of Heaven, the King of Kings, bright morning star, Emmanuel, Living Word, Holy one of God, Joseph and Mary’s boy, walks and talks with those who every other prince or King would ignore. Jesus serves those whom others would rule. Jesus does not need the affirmation of man. He does not court influence. He does not seek popularity. He loves because he is genuinely wanting the best, even if the best comes at an awful price. He does not flatter, he does not build contacts, he does not even build a Kingdom, he is altogether “un-Godlike!”

He is totally different to what everyone expected of him before and since, and that is the mystery of the whole gospel!

Every time we expect him to turn to the right, he turns to the left. Every time that we expect him to rebuke he commends, when we expect him to commend, he rebukes. Those whom we reject he spends the most time with, and, when we usher someone important into his “way” he seems to go out of his way to break whatever influence that we sought to “build.”

Jesus baffled all who had anything to do with him. He still does. If he isn’t baffling you, you should look harder at “who” you are expecting Him to be, for we all have times when our expectations totally obscure who he really is. Increasingly, this seems to be a crucial part of understanding Jesus and joining his message. We must never stop knocking, asking and seeking. Bono, from the Irish band U2, put it so simply: “I still haven’t found what I'm looking for.” When we stop looking we presume that we have “found.”

This book is the continuation of my searching's that began with a simple realisation that I knew all about “what everybody else said about” Jesus. I searched my heart for the honest answer to the simple question:

“Do I really know Him?”

As I searched for my answer, looking at Him through the lives of those he met, lived with and died for I began to see that Jesus was not who I expected him to be.

The more that I searched the more that I realised that, to Israel, and to every generation since, Jesus is “The Unexpected God.”

 

geoff b

 

 

Copyright © Geoff Bullock 2008

 

 

 

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