“It must have been tough with Jesus being right all the time.”
“Mary probably nagged, ‘Why can’t you be more like Jesus?'”
“I’m sure they hated to be compared to him.”
Okay, maybe. But I want to imagine perfection a bit different and convince you that true righteousness is attractive, not repulsive. As a perfect son and brother, Jesus would have been loved, not despised. Our misconception stems from our confusion about what righteousness truly is. As fallible people, we have limited experience with righteousness without the little word, self, preceding it. That four-letter word is ruinous.
Self-righteousness is not right at all!
There are two angles to self righteousness. It is confidence in your personal rightness. And, it is pious self assurance that others not like you are wrong. We despise a goody two shoe because the height of his personal ethics force him to look down. Putting Jesus into those shoes is ungrounded.
Jesus was righteous, not self righteous. A self righteous brother would gloat that he cleaned the bathroom without being told and scorn his siblings for forgetting their chores. A self righteous brother tattles. A self righteous brother welcomes comparisons and embraces public commendation. Is this how you envision life at home with Jesus? Please say no!
If anyone in history had reason to put confidence in his rightness, it was Jesus. Yet, we know that Jesus did not flaunt his morality. What I mean is this: Jesus was too busy living the law of God (loving God and others) to be concerned with putting on right behavior. Why is something right or wrong in the first place? Because it confirms or contradicts the personality of God, who is the standard. Jesus, who lived with God for all eternity, understood rightness intuitevely because he knew God. Righteousness is motivated by knowing God, not the desire to be good. Jesus was not confident he was right, he was confident in who he knew God to be.
To put it in terms that we can taste, Jesus always acted right because he was unique in his pure motive of love. Jesus wasn’t self-involved. He lost himself in his pursuit of others. His relationships were not about him, but about the other. There was no self in his righteousness.
Perfection is cool.
Because Jesus was righteous, he always did the right thing. This didn’t turn people off. On the contrary, it made him easy to be around. His company was a pleasure.
Have you ever been around a friend who was genuinely concerned about you? It’s enjoyable, is it not? You know they will do whatever it takes to make life easier and more enjoyable for you. They overlook your rough edges, and don’t react when you push their buttons. Do you remember your first love? Remember the thrill of having a special someone who wanted to be with you and sought out your company? A love that was interested in your interests and couldn’t get enough of you? You can’t get enough of that attention. You feel as though you could live on it instead of food and drink! Have you ever had someone cover for you? Didn’t rat you out when you messed up, or even took the blame for you? My friends, that’s the kind of brother Jesus was.
The Bible hints at Jesus’ irresistible attraction in its stories of huge crowds and loyal followers. Throw in superhuman powers and God-like charisma to the mix of easy-to-be-around righteousness, and you have an “idol” worth worshiping. The crowds, who due to the constraints of time and place, could never know him intimately. Yet they glimpsed his unique appeal and flocked in droves to be near him. What lucky people! To be near the heartbeat of God! To look into the eyes of eternal compassion! To be invited, as is the temptation of lovers, to eat and drink him up!
I’m going to confess a reoccuring night-time dream I have. It is an emotional rush of pure love. In it there is a faceless man who consumes me with his attentions. He inspires me with confidence because of his unfailing desire for me. Weird? My secret hope is that this dream is a premonition of heaven and the loving acceptance and passion I will find there in the physical presence of the man Jesus.
This is how I imagine family life with him. Otherworldy and unbelievable cool.