Life to the full and flourishing go hand in hand. And, part of what brings us life is actually helping others flourish. That raises a really important question: What if you were asked to “design” the perfect person to help people flourish? Seriously. Well, actually, that would be one substantial undertaking. For example, what kind of person would he or she need to be, in terms of their character? What perspectives or wisdom would he or she absolutely need to have? And, finally, what would he or she have to be able to do, to help someone completely flourish?
But, if you really knew what the person was like, you’d have a better idea about where how you need to grow to get better at one of the most important things you can do with your life.
In answering the question about the perfect person, I know it’s easy to just say “Jesus,” since somehow that’s the Sunday school knee-jerk answer, (and after all the blog title does point that way). But think about it for a bit, who and what would that person have to be? Let’s at least hit the highlights. Just for fun.
One View on the Perfect Person to Help us Flourish
First, he (we’ll go with he at this point in light of the eventual answer) would have to be able to truly model flourishing, live it out completely and yes, perfectly, if he is going to have true credibility in inviting us into it. If he can’t live it, how can he offer it, right?
Enter the Full Range of the Human Experience
Then, he would they would have to fully enter the whole range of human experience, including the whole gamut of emotions, to be able to relate fully to us. Because if he can’t fully relate, how can he help, right?
Be Completely Integrated
And then in particular he would somehow have to model for us the perfect integration of the heart, mind and the will, or, as we have said, integrate, without messing up, all of the emotions, thoughts and desires, in order to show us what it is like to perfectly flourish in those areas that are so core to being human. No small task.
Then, he would have to deeply love all people, genuinely value them, bestow great worth on them, and see them clearly through the eyes of love. Why is that? Well, that kind of love is the most essential ingredient we humans need tons of to have a shot at flourishing. That love has to be so great that he has to actually like being with us. Yes, like being with us. Even enjoy, (at least most of the time!), sharing himself with us. So much so that he can even see us as permanent members of his incredible family. Wow.
Be Tender and Strong
Continuing, (are you tired yet?), he would need to possess a remarkable combination of tenderness and strength, vulnerability and power, grace and truth, to masterfully come alongside us. His tenderness, vulnerability and grace would be vital to helping us feel safe with him; that we can be who we are with him without freaking out on us. His strength and power would be critical to possess so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed by our messes, and has the strength and clarity to help us move towards life. Wow. That is quite a combination.
Serve and Enter our Suffering
And, if we are going big here, (which we are), then he would also need to be willing to serve anyone (because we will absolutely need tons of help to flourish…we simply cannot do it on our own), and not only that, he must be willing to enter in particular our suffering, actually every kind of human suffering, if he is going to truly know our pain from the brutal realities of living in this sin-riddled world, and be able to rescue us every kind of trap set in the at times terrifying darkness of this place.
Be Humble, Patient, all those Really Hard Character Things
Then, he would have to be unbelievably humble, patient, kind, generous, honest, etc., all those remarkable qualities that are so scarce down here, to deal with all the drama that comes after our initial rescue. This is the drama that we human beings generate on a daily basis, (even when we’ve known him a long time) as we gradually, I mean very gradually, as in a three steps forward two and nine tenths steps back, sometimes completely falling off the wagon drama, move towards flourishing.
Yes, there’s more. He would need tons of wisdom, tons of clarity, (like perfect spiritual vision if you will, not blinded or distorted by sin, guilt or shame) and a complete grasp of the truth (he even is the truth somehow, as in John 14:6) to know what to do when with us, to know what to say and what not to say, to know when to be patient and when to challenge, and so on, in order to respond to us in ways throughout our journey that very gradually help us become more like him.
Oh and Yes, Live a Perfect Life
Not only that, but through all of this, he would have live his entire life, something like 11,000 days, without ever sinning. For baseball fans, that would be like batting a 1000 in baseball, over like a 10 year career, (when around 400 is the professional record) something totally impossible for us fallen humans. A life without sin was vital be for his life to be offered as a perfect sacrifice, in order for his sacrifice to qualify as the perfect substitute and final for all of our sin. Oh my.
Then Pay the Greatest Price, Willingly
Finally, even if he could pull that off, then he would have to be willing to voluntarily give up his life, (because his Father would never force him to do anything, it would have to be something that Jesus could give up and take back again…see John 1:18-19), and as it turned out, go through unimaginable physical, emotional and spiritual suffering in the process. Then, he would need God the Father to completely validate who he said he was, by raising him from the dead, just as he predicted it. (No one has ever, ever pulled that off, at least according to one of my heroes, Andy Stanley).
That is a serious list, isn’t it. An incredible list. It can seem to be too good to be true. None of us would get past three years old (or earlier for folks like me) before we were permanently bumped off the list.
But Jesus made it. Made it through the whole thing. Flawlessly.
Now About You
Well, I am confident that the life of Jesus, while it was at times filled with true hardship and at times, unbelievable suffering, was one that was filled with great joy and meaning much much more often than it wasn’t. And, his suffering was used for great good. I have to believe, brothers and sisters, that the more we follow him and yes, even become like him, that while our suffering in some ways will grow, our sense of joy and meaning will substantially grow as well.
May this brief essay, give you a greater appreciation for who he was and what went through for you, and give you a greater passion for embracing practices that will help you experience greater life in the shot you get.