I’m strung like an instrument. There are lots of things in life that play my strings. Recognition tends to play a lot of my strings. A good friend reaching out to me in need does too. My strings play when my wife tells me she loves me, and even when I watch a good movie. All those things just make me feel alive and like I’m living the life I am put together for.
But there is a chord buried deep within me that often gathers dust. When it is played, though, it is surprisingly and amazingly in tune. Pitch perfect. The vibrations from this one chord shake all the rest. My whole frame vibrates with it, from the inside out. It pulls on my heart strings and often triggers tears.
When I look back at the few times that this chord has truly rung out into my entire life I notice something. It’s when a wonderful God-fearing and God-loving man passes away and only then do I realize how wonderful he was. It’s when I go for a walk in the woods buried in doubt and confusion and something somehow speaks to me and I return walking on air. It’s when I see someone getting what they don’t deserve and another not getting what they do. It’s grace and it’s humility and it’s justice and it’s truth and it’s beauty.
And all these things I recognize in one man. Of all the people that I've met or heard about, there's only one who so consistently tugs on that buried inner chord. It’s when he tells a criminal on the verge of execution that today they will be reunited in paradise. It’s when he tells me that the heinous and broken tax collector and not the proud religious man goes home justified in God’s eyes. It’s when he talks about the open arms of a Father - that might as well stretch across the globe - welcoming a delinquent and disrespectful son home. It’s when I cry out for Barabbas and yet he still loves me and dies for me.
There’s too much in this world that is cut-throat and competitive. There’s too much get what you deserve and pull yourself up from your bootstraps. There’s too much Machiavelli and survival of the fittest. There’s too much politics and self aggrandizement. There’s too much empty religion and too much judgment.
You can have all that. I’ve tasted them and while they can make my strings hum a bit, the tune is forgettable and unsatisfying. Give me some truth. Give me some humility. Give me some justice. Give me some grace. Give me some love. So that’s why I think so much of Jesus. He is inexhaustible. No matter how much my inner chord rings out truth I always find more with him.
The song he plays in my soul is the most beautiful and stirring and intoxicating I have ever heard. And the more I follow the better it gets. So I try to go in that direction. I get distracted, constantly, but only to be convinced even more that there is no better way. That’s why I love him and that’s why I follow him. Why Jesus? I can only speak for myself, but that’s why.
+ Brad McDowell
Thanks to the Rev. Brad McDowell, pastor extraordinaire of Ashland Terrace Christian Church, for this strong and moving answer to the perennial question, "Why Jesus?" When we read this lovely little piece, we could feel that ancient and stirring love song being played deep down in our souls - so, thank you for that!