Friday, July 20 , 2018, 5:28 pm | Fair 74º


Tim Durnin: Holy Week Reflections and Lessons from Christ’s Ministry

In an interesting turn of events, Christ is crucified not long after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Three days later, well, you know the story.

Two thousand years later, it is interesting how divergent Christ’s message has become. Even in my own family there is disagreement and discord. Out in the world there is even more so. One can find as many shades of Christianity as there are colors on an artist’s palette — not all of them particularly bright or appealing.

What is it then that is essential to Christianity, and why is it that, after 2,000 years, the essence seems so elusive? The better part of my professional life has been spent, to one degree or another, in pursuit of the answer to this question. I would like to say I have come to find definitive answers. I have not.

In a decidedly nonjudgmental and definitely not self-righteous tone, this is what I have discovered.

Jesus focused His ministry on the poor and outcast. He did not build His Church by finding wealthy donors and promising to secure their place in heaven. He did not demand tithing to build edifices to His glory. He ministered outdoors, in people’s homes, on mountain tops. He ministered in the midst of people living their lives.

Jesus ministry was not about judgment, at least not of the individual. He challenged the belief system of Jewish leaders who were so entrenched in their own self-righteousness that the truth of religious values was lost. Toward sinners He was compassionate, understanding and welcoming.

Jesus was a storyteller. It is through His stories and His parables that the depth and message of His ministry can be grasped. They are simple stories best understood in the rural and agrarian context in which they were told. One does not need a degree in theology to understand or interpret them.

Jesus’ words and ministry are filled with glorious contradictions. They are, to me, essential, reflecting the contradictions that life offers. I do not believe them to be errors. They are intentional and reflective of the many dimensions of His ministry and of the human experience. We are called to hold life’s contradictions.

Jesus made it clear that relationships are at the center of our faith experience. Jesus went out into the world to build and strengthen relationships. Relationships are at the center of every parable, and how one relates to others is the essential element of faith. This is no accident. How we treat and relate to others is essential to Christianity.

Jesus was not focused on His own salvation but on the salvation of others. He accomplished this by going out into the world and engaging the sick, the hungry, children and prostitutes. He lived simply and used His life as a guide for others to follow. He did not alienate followers with anger and judgment but with a simple, humble request, “Come follow me.” And so I did.

In doing so, in choosing Christ, I have become living proof that God can do His work through broken men. I have no illusions about my own sinfulness and even fewer about my ability to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But on good mornings that is my goal, and in that I have found my own salvation — at least in this life.

— Tim Durnin is an independent consultant for nonprofit organizations, schools and small business. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @tdurnin, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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