When God is doing a deep work within me, it feels a lot like being exposed in the rain. I cannot hide or resist. I just get soaked….everywhere.
I heard this word ‘winsome’ years ago with regards to describing the character of Jesus. Maybe John Ortberg shared it first. I don’t recall when but I think it was him. He painted this beautiful picture of the winsome Jesus for me and I was totally captivated by it. How wonderful, I thought, to become like that. Little did I know then what it would mean and eventually cost me in the end.
My pride was soaked with the rains of God early. I developed a tough outer layer as a kid to protect myself from being hurt. I was bullied and learned to bully right back. I think I am a fighter by nature, so I had to learn how to train the fighter within me to fight the good fight. The first raindrops felt like stinging nettles when I was in fifth grade. I tried to defend a developmentally disabled boy on the playground. I ran off kids that were picking on him. As I turned to reach out to him, he punched me so hard, the wind was knocked out of me. He ran away. As soon as I caught my breath, I went looking for him. He was huddled up beneath his coat in a dark corner of the building. I approached him carefully. He acted like a caged animal that had been deeply hurt.
“John, are you all right.” I asked. He looked at me with cold, serious eyes and his body was shaking. “I don’t need you to fight my battles for me, Jenny.” John changed schools shortly after that incident. I never saw him again. But, that sucker punch left an impression.
I couldn’t fight other peoples’ battles for them. I had to learn to keep my pride in check and how fight my own battles. I needed to be trained in the way Jesus would want me to approach any situation—especially the tough situations when my first impulse is to fight. I learned that Jesus was tough but in a completely different way. He didn’t use his power as a weapon but as a radically forgiving power for good. He didn’t need a tough outer layer to protect his heart. He was totally vulnerable and unashamed. He didn’t need defending or anyone to fight a battle for him. His heart was already pure which meant his motives were always righteous and holy. My motivations to fight came from a deep sinful place where anger and sadness reside. I had an overwhelming need to prove myself worthy. So, I could be just as tough as any boy—just as good as anyone else. If I am really honest, I held onto that guiding principle even into ministry. I would fight the good fight. That doesn’t work. I had quite a few sucker punches over the years leaving my pride bruised and battered. Jesus had something different for me.
The Jewish community lives with a concept known as the ‘circumcision of the heart.’ (Deuteronomy 30:6; Romans 2:29) I think this is what Jesus had—his heart was pure and accessible—which made him winsome. It could be hurt and broken. That’s what he was asking of me. Not to be so tough but to become softer and accessible. Knowing my heart would be broken over and over again wasn’t something that I ever believed would be part of the winsome character development curriculum but it certainly has been a work of transformation in my personal life soaking every layer of my being.
Sunday, we will talk about a Sinful Woman who winsomely did the right thing in the midst of a crowd of righteous people whose hearts were so callously overprotected they couldn’t have known they were fighting for all the wrong things. Her act was a beautiful illustration of what a heart broken by Jesus could be capable of and how Jesus revealed a simple and deep teaching for all of us standing among the party goers at Simon’s house. Bring your bible. You may want to take notes. Or maybe, your’e like me and need a few more coaching tips on developing the winsome character like Jesus.
Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:48