Beauty is not skin deep. Beauty is within you.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” — John 15:4
Jesus makes two presuppositions: the first is about us, the second is about Himself. If you know anything about Jesus (and I say that with a grin), the second is a given. He will remain in us. But the first supposes something to consider, that we have already been with Jesus.
We just have to stay there.
A couple of years ago, a senior in one of my Bible studies said she was born into and grew up with her faith woven completely around her. She was never without Jesus. Others share similar stories which makes the following true. Dyed-in-the-wool, never wavering, never wandering Christians exist.
But most of us, for at least some point or points in our lives, are in and out of this faith thing. We’re good for a day. Okay. We’re good for an hour. And then, well, you know, there’s the in-law, the stink bomb at work (and I don’t necessary mean odor), the botched dinner plans and your never-before-experienced-to-this-degree ravenous hunger, and hey, hardworking person, you need (and never find) needed alone time. Right?
Yea. There are times you are a little less than holy. You’re not remaining in Jesus.
Remaining in Jesus takes intention. It takes discipline. This is not hard. This is not impossible. This is not something so challenging. It’s actually easier than creating a Plan B when you, ravenous one, have to find a new dinner plan after the first one botched.
Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith is a book comprised of Henri Nouwen’s teachings. Here our teacher reminds us of the family member we love because of their gentleness, vision, self-control, and spiritual wisdom. Nouwen says, “A spiritual life cannot be formed without discipline, practice, and accountability.” He continues. “For me, at least three classic disciplines or spiritual practices are particularly useful… (1) the discipline of the Heart, (2) the discipline of the Book, and (3) the discipline of the Church of community of faith. (Spiritual Direction, Henri Nouwen, Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith, Harper One Publishers, 2006, p. XII and XIV).”
Yes, we are going to screw up. We are fallible. But we are more than that, too. So much more. We are with Jesus, even when we think we are not, or when we think we are actually opting out of Jesus’ proximity (and love). Jesus does remain in us, not on a whim or when it’s convenient, or even when we’re thinking of Him. He. Is. With. Us. Always.
That alone makes Nouwen’s three-part process of Heart, Book and Church not impossible, but possible. And I’ll go one further than that. Jesus remaining in us makes how we respond to and in the world beautiful.
This beauty is not skin deep. This beauty is within you.
PRAYER: Jesus, help me see You well within me. Amen.