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The Passionate Jesus

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The Rev. James Ellis III The Rev. James Ellis, III

The Rev. James Ellis III is Chaplain of Discipleship at Hope College in Holland, MI.

Member of:

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Representative of:

Hope College, Holland, MI


A Jesus Fascination

August 18, 2010

I am beyond fascinated with my two-month old nephew, Xavier.[1] Each time I see him his ability to effortlessly capture my attention increases dramatically. His little legs are slowly getting longer, he is drinking more milk, sleeping more through the night--a development that my sister and brother-in-law are overjoyed about--and otherwise growing-up before my very eyes.

When I haven't seen him in a while (probably more like a few days) I begin wondering what my good pal Xavier is doing, as if his daily routine of eating, sleeping, and relieving himself has changed dramatically since my last visit. I don't suspect, at least at this young age, that he is consciously campaigning to be the coolest baby on the planet, but somehow his earnest nomination as such is always further solidified upon seeing him. Never mind the drool that occasionally saturates my shirt, even in his sleep Xavier is fascinating.

He was born on his parent's two-year wedding anniversary, a ceremony which I officiated. Plus, my wife and I don't have children yet, and Xavier will seemingly be our only nephew for some time, so I know that my preoccupation with him, while pure and appropriate, is both circumstantial and relational. Yet, fascinated I am, and fascinated I shall be.

As his parents, my parents, and my wife and I gawk at his infant antics during our visits, I find myself, again and again, fascinated that one day Xavier will call me Uncle James (or Uncle "Buddy," my family nickname). Even more, though, I am convicted that as one who is the redeemed of the Lord my supreme fascination should rest in Jesus. This may be too sermonic and evangelical for many, but maybe that isn't altogether bad.

After all, Xavier is my nephew, but first-and-foremost he is God's child. Xavier's parents can feed him, but only God can sustain him. As he grows older Xavier will begin feeling that innate, age-old craving for independence, but my prayer is that he will surrender his life to Jesus for dependence upon God. Xavier is awesome, and I love him dearly, but Jesus is my reason for being, and I need reflective moments like this to remind myself of that joyous truth.

It is because of Jesus that as a 30-something after close to four years my wife and I are still married, happily I must add, especially in a culture--sadly sometimes even in the church--that promotes marriage as a contract instead of a lifelong covenant between one man and woman before God. I am fascinated by Jesus' holy nack for sanctifying my weaknesses, and completing a good work in me.[2]

It is because of Jesus that despite devastating oil spills, incessant corruption, and hatemongering that I am able to love those who if left to my own devices I would choose not to.[3] I am fascinated by the holy text (the Bible), God's words breathed into existence, which is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.[4] I am fascinated that Jesus would send a counselor and comforter in the form of his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to be my eternal tutor.[5]

In today's pluralistic, politically correct society even believers appear to be unwilling to lift high Jesus Christ as "the way, the truth, and the life,"[6] the only path or means by which peace with God can be attained. Nevertheless, I know Xavier as my nephew and in time he will know me as his uncle. Our connection is relational, based on the bloodline that his mother (my sister) and I share.

I wonder if you, too, are fascinated with Jesus not as a martyr, prophetic philosopher, or all-around good guy, but as God, the son whose redemptive, shed blood on Golgotha's rugged, old cross has defeated sin and death.

It is wonderful to be fascinated with Jesus, but truly, only possible through the sacrificial relationship of which the Bible speaks.[7]

I am fascinated, ya'll.


[1] For photos of Xavier, visit my blog; http://onthagrindcuzin.blogspot.com
[2] Philippians 1:6.
[3] 2 Corinthians 12:10, Luke 6:27-36.
[4] Psalm 119:105.
[5] John 14:25-27.
[6] John 14:6-7.
[7] John 3:16-21.


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