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Flickr photo by Vernon Chan

Encountering Jesus as a Bucket List

By Ernesto Tinajero

Reading The Moral Bucket List by David Brooks, I confronted the hardest and most rewarding aspect of following Jesus. In his essay, he makes a very good distinction between resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Resume virtues are those skills that look good on your resume to get a job or for your career. Eulogy virtues are those people remember us by. He then goes on to highlight some he wanted for his own life and how other seem to have gotten them.

This got me to be still and meditate on the eulogy virtues and the process of Christian sanctification. Sanctification is the Christian understanding seldom talked about in today’s leadership, which is dominated Christendom. We talk about being leaders in the home, church and in our businesses, but the process of growing more like Jesus is not a topic for polite conversation. I find this in my own life. The hardest part of following Jesus is that Jesus will hold up a mirror to us, to me and I can see I am not the great person I imagine myself to be. I can be unforgiving, vengeful and downright mean. I identify with the disciples who asked Jesus for a mechanicalized number to the amount of forgiveness as to avoid love. Jesus, thank God, offered an astronomical number. Meaning he will offer many times forgiveness to me. Good, I will need it. But, I will be asked to forgive many time overs, dang. I want to wash my hands of the people that hurt me and send them to the crowd.

In other words encountering God means I have to encounter the truth about myself. Not fun. So better to ask for a mechanicalized morality that I can plug in what to do without having to confront my cold heart. Sanctification offers a better way. Jesus transforms one, but not without a great deal of suffering, as we have to encounter the living God and have to join Peter in saying what a wretched soul I am, driven by dark desires and petty concerns. Being with Jesus means recognizing Peter in ourselves and being brutally honest in facing the mirror.

David Brooks is correct that such eulogy virtues are born not of chasing them or pretending them, but in confronting the weakness in ourselves. My moral bucket list simply is praying for the strength to encounter Jesus and myself in my life.

When we confront our selfishness with Jesus by our sides, we find that we need love and his love to face the darkness in ourselves with courage and with love. The resume virtues are those we can gain with work. The eulogy ones are those that in reality shape us when we look hard into the mirror of Jesus finding there that we, indeed, were there when they crucified the Lord and joined with the crowd clambering for his blood. We now find ourselves covered in his blood…our salvation and our hope into growing into different people… people filled with love.

About Ernesto Tinajero

Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.

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