I was driving around town on some errands the other day, which to me is the best time for worship. It’s just him and me and great music. Besides, singing Jesus songs keeps my mouth in check when I want to berate, ahem, certain drivers who aren’t driving very wisely. But that’s a tangent. So there I was driving and singing, and yet another song comes over the airwaves about Jesus’s holiness. I remembered a passage from Beautiful Outlaw some chapters back in which John Eldredge explores Jesus’s cunning. How Jesus knew what to say and do to win hearts, win change in people’s lives, and avoid capture before the right time came. But like so much else about Jesus’s faceted personality, “cunning” is overlooked.
A passage reads:
…do we love Jesus for his cunning? I don’t recall a worship song with the word cunning in it. “Thou Art Cunning,” or “Cunning, Cunning, Cunning.” Do we interpret his actions in our lives as perhaps part of some cunning plan? That delayed answer to prayer–is there something brilliant about the timing? Would it help us rest if we thought so? When he answers our prayers with “No,” do we see him sparing us some unseen danger? And when it comes to our own “imitation of Christ,” do we approach our days wondering, How would Jesus have me be snakelike today?
Now, the point of quoting this thought-provoking passage is my meditation on our worship of him. The list of songs goes on and on: “He is Holy” by David Crowder or “You Are Holy” by Hillsong, etc, etc, etc. I had to laugh, plugging in “cunning” and “playful” and “generous” and “scandalous” where the songwriter wrote “holy.” And it got me to wondering “Why do we focus on Christ’s holiness to the point that the rest of who he is, the rest of his personality, is whitewashed and forgotten?”
The thought stayed with me till I was out of the chaos of mid-day traffic and safely back home, and the answer was so obvious that I felt rather silly. The answer came out of a Tigger song: “Because he’s the only one.” There are plenty of human beings who are cunning, in both good and bad ways. There are plenty of playful people and generous people and scandalous people. But there are no other holy people. Not truly “holy” in the terms of “never having sinned, not once, ever, so that God the Father deemed you worthy of saving all the rest of us kind of holy.” So I guess it’s no surprise that it is this quality that we have clung to above all the rest.
While it makes Jesus more approachable to realize that he is, in fact, playful and generous and had suffered the same weariness after a long journey, the same grief when family members die, and had to learn to tie his sandals and shape wood with splintered hands, it is this singular holiness that makes him worthy of our regard at all. Otherwise, what would set him apart from the rest of us? He had a mission, he used his cunning to get it done, but it was the holiness, the sinlessness, that made the end result possible.
What if … what if, after forty days of eating nothing, he had given in to that extreme and very human hunger and heeded Satan’s suggestion: Turn these stones to bread. Just a little thing. Who will know?
I don’t like to contemplate where we would all be then. So next time I drive around town on my errands, I will happily praise Jesus’s holiness with the rest.