In the third installment of the “Animate” series Mark Scandrette states that the goal of the Christian life is “trying to follow the way of Jesus.”

Christians talk a lot about Jesus and there are times when the conversation is bewildering.

You might hear a Christian say, “Jesus lives in my heart.” Clearly, when a Christian speaks in this way, the speaker is speaking symbolically, using a physical picture to describe a spiritual experience. The physical body of the historical person named Jesus does not live in 2012. It certainly does not take up space in the physical organ that pumps blood through our bodies.

In John 14:6, Jesus is reported to have said,

‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

As with the “Jesus is in my heart” statement, these words are also to be understood symbolically. It is not possible for any human being to go “through” another human being. But the fact the words are to be understood symbolically does not mean they are untrue. Symbols embody deep truths.

In the historical person Jesus, we Christians believe we see the perfect embodiment of goodness, truth, light, love, and beauty. We see in Jesus the qualities and nature of God. Jesus was the full expression in human form of all that is best and most pure in the human condition.

When Christians say, “Jesus lives in my heart”, they are saying those qualities that we see embodied in Jesus live at the centre of our being. These qualities are the deepest reality of our human identity. The words of John 14:6, mean that we come to God by the power of love that we see embodied in Jesus.

The word “Jesus” stands for the divine power of love that caused all creation to come into existence and that continues to sustain all life. “Jesus” is Christian shorthand for the power of goodness, truth, light, love, and beauty at work in our lives and throughout the world. This work has its source in God, but is not confined to any one particular formulation, dogmatic construct, or institutional expression.

Mark Scandrette points out in his “Animate” presentation that Eugene Peterson in his version of the Bible paraphrases Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 to say,

‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ (“The Message”)

“The unforced rhythms of grace,” is a beautiful phrase. It means that, we Christians find within ourselves a power from beyond ourselves that enables us to live the life Jesus modelled. We do not strive to copy Jesus. We do not seek to conform ourselves to his pattern by shear determination and willpower.

Christians seek to surrender to the power that was embodied in Jesus. We seek to submit to that living force of light and love we now call Christ and that we find wherever there is goodness, truth, light, love, and beauty. These are the qualities that are the only way into a relationship with the God who is revealed in Jesus as the fullness of Love.