Sept. 11, 2001 changed everything, and that is a fact. Just ask Silverstein Properties who, less than two months prior to the attacks, purchased a 99-year lease on a number of spaces throughout the World Trade Center campus at the cost of $3.2 billion. The vast majority of their property space would be destroyed just a few weeks later.
There aren't a lot of certainties in our world. Whether something is touted as "a sure thing" or appears doomed from the start, only time will produce actual results.
Let us consider another example. Have you ever heard of Hilarius Bookbinder? No? How about Johannes Climacus, Victor Eremita, Johannes de Silentio, Vigilius Haufniensis, Nicolaus Notabene or Frater Taciturnus?
Of course, you have. Nearly everyone has. They are all the same person. We just call him Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish existentialist.
Kierkegaard published many of his more contentious works under pseudonyms, or false names, in order to maintain some sense of distance from the ideas. This was not just an issue of self-preservation, mind you. Kierkegaard wanted the reader to have freedom to interpret the ideas being presented without being biased by their opinions, good or bad, of Kierkegaard's ways of thinking.
Brilliant. How many people would be willing to publish such widely read works without taking any of the credit for themselves?
My favorite of Kierkegaard's aliases would have to be Nicolaus Notabene. That name is nothing short of noteworthy. (That joke would kill in Latin class, by the way.)
Many would argue that what Kierkegaard sought to do, above anything else, was place more value not on knowledge itself, but on what a person does with the knowledge that he or she obtains. Of course for every Kierkegaardian scholar who would agree with my assessment, there is another who would probably, well, you can see where this is headed.
Eventually, each of the Kierkegaard pen names would be revealed. Many of his ideas were far too progressive for his time, and the use of pseudonyms helped to slow the process of immediate condemnation. As time passed, along with Kierkegaard himself, many of those anonymous ideas have proved quite valid and are still applicable today.
All of us have the tendency to jump to conclusions. Sometimes we react hastily to new ideas, circumstances or ways of doing things. More often than not, however, we are quick to form opinions of other people.
It can go either way. A potential employee might look really good on paper or even in an interview, but throughout time his or her true character will be revealed. By the same token, some of the most amazing accomplishments have come from the most unexpected places. Eventually, time will make reality clear.
Jesus understood this. During the most active time of His ministry, the proverbial jury was out regarding His nature, character and intentions. Consider what the crowds were saying according to John 7:12 (TNIV): "Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, 'He is a good man.' Others replied, 'No, he deceives the people.'"
It would seem that most people didn't quite know what to do with Jesus. In fact, most people had Him all wrong. A group of intuitive, God-fearing women seemed to be the only ones who really understood Him. Even his closest disciples were a bit slow to join the party. To this day, unfortunately, many of His followers have done a poor job of demonstrating what He is all about.
While it seems blasphemous to suggest that Jesus was a master of deception, it is also incorrect to simply describe him as "a good man." Jesus was so much more and is so much more. Even after all this time, His ability to alter the course of history and individual stories still remains.
The Bible teaches that Jesus was God. He is God. He is God who put on the flesh of humanity in order to show us just how full our lives are supposed to be. He did not come to form a new religion, nor did He come to show us a new "path" to enlightenment. He came to give us Himself, so that we would have a chance to reap the benefits of a life lived in perfection. He did it because we couldn't. He did it so we wouldn't have to.
If we put aside everything else that has polluted Jesus' image in our culture, we might see the expression of the God who wants us so badly that He came down to our level. And time has revealed that He is even better than advertised. I hope you know the real Jesus. The Jesus that still changes lives today and is not so concerned with trivialities.
I'm not going to be coy with this one because I think it begs a response. What will you do with Jesus?
Eric Costanzo is Minister of Community Ministries and a teaching pastor at First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa.
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