I appreciate flowery phrases as much as anyone else – especially in poetry and memoirs. But when it comes to exegesis, or any discussion of God for that matter, I prefer simple wisdom. Partly because much of the flowery discourse penned by academics in lofty places is more pleasant fiction than solid truth.
Jesus kept it simple.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus can be flowery. He is the Genius behind every beautiful phrase that has ever been crafted. But when He was living among us, when He was Jesus in the streets, He imparted simple, meaningful wisdom.
He said things like this:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7
Now those are words you can use.
Back when I was ministering to practical, up-close and personal needs on a daily basis, someone gave me a sweet book – a compilation of stories told by Mother Teresa entitled Reaching Out In Love.
Her short, simple stories do so much more for my heart than flowery words ever will.
“I could not have been a Missionary of Charity,” she told her Sisters, “if I had passed by when I saw and smelt that woman who was eaten up by rats – her face, her legs. But I returned, picked her up and took her to a hospital. If I had not, the Society would have died. Feelings of repugnance are human but if I see the face of Jesus in his most distressing disguise, I will be holy.” – p. 25
Flowery phrases cause me to sigh, to hit a like button, to admire the skill of the author. But simple words telling of great love make me long to get back out there on the streets and take someone’s face in my hands.
Here’s what Mother said to those who offered to help her in her mission:
“A clean heart can see God. And we should see God in each other. This is what Jesus taught us: ‘Love one another. You did it to me. That small thing, you did it to me.'”
“We are not social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some people, but we do it for Jesus.” Then she gave this example:
“One day, one of our Sisters picked up a man from the street, and in lifting him up, his skin remained on the footpath. The sister took him home but it took her a long time to care for him, for his body was full of worms. After two or three hours, he died with the most wonderful smile on his face. I asked that Sister, ‘What did you feel when you were touching that body? When you were touching so closely?’
She said: ‘Mother, I’ve never before felt the presence of Christ, but really, really I was sure, I was touching his body.'” – p. 26
Just wondering this Friday afternoon what lofty, flowery words those towery guys would pen if they were to touch His body that closely.
And longing this Friday afternoon to see a wonderful smile on a wonderful face.