Jesus lived what seemed to be a perfectly balanced life. He understood who he was, where he came from, and what he had to do. He was focused on God’s plan for his life and God’s greater purpose for the world. He was attuned to that purpose and rarely if ever, distracted from the mission. That’s not easy to do. It’s a thing of beauty when you see it. And it certainly doesn’t happen on accident. What was Jesus’ secret?
Jesus was strategic in the way he spent his time. He had a sense that his time on earth was short and he wanted to pour everything he had into the work God had for him. To that end, Jesus consistently lived in three spaces. These were literally, physical spaces, but represented something deeper. Each of the three spaces was carved out for some very important spiritual work. Each space represented a unique and vital dimension to his life and ministry.
The three dimensions where Jesus lived were: the mountain, the wilderness, and the village.
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself (John 6:15).
The mountain was the place where Jesus encountered God. It was the space where he reached up to feel the presence of God, and most clearly hear the voice of God. Sometimes it was the place where he most powerfully articulated the ways of God.
Jesus went up the mountain when he felt vulnerable or hard pressed or simply exhausted. His time on the mountain recharged him and inspired him. The mountain was the place where Jesus felt closest to God. He made his most important decisions on the mountain. He spoke his most important words on the mountain. He poured his heart and life out to God on the mountain. He was most true to himself on the mountain.
The mountain is the space where we encounter the living God. It’s where we worship him, speak to him, hear his voice, and discern his will for our lives. On the mountain, we feel most alive and feel the strength of God’s love, justice, and mercy.
The mountain is also where we learn the deeper ways of the Spirit Life. It is the place where worship, confession, prayer, and meditation nourish us. It is the space where the Fruits of the Spirit come alive inside of us. The mountain is the place where the Word cuts us, molds us and makes us everything God wants us to be.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness … (Luke 4:1).
The wilderness was the place where Jesus wrestled with his own character and identity. It was the place where he reached in to explore the hidden recesses of his heart – the place where he was most vulnerable. It was his place of deepest self-awareness.
Jesus went into the wilderness to be tested. Every sage spent time pushing the limits of his own character – his own internal fortitude. This testing was a time of cleansing through ruthless introspection. It was the place where he fought his private battles with temptation. It was a place where he discovered what he was really made of.
The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God …’ (Matt. 4:3).
It is no coincidence that in the wilderness the devil attacked Jesus at the point of his identity. Jesus had just heard his identity confirmed by the voice of God in a baptismal experience. And immediately was compelled to the wilderness where his understanding of identity would be tested. The wilderness was the place where Jesus truly came to terms with who he was.
The wilderness is the space where we become self-aware. It is the place where we connect what we know about God with what we know about ourselves and about the world we live in. It is the place where we battle with sin and temptation, idolatry and trust. It is the place where our character is tested – where our faith is forged.
In the wilderness, we can reflect on our own emotional well-being and self-esteem, as well as our deepest fears, anxieties, and doubts. The wilderness is the space where we can confront our anger, depression, and grief. But, the wilderness is also the place of deepest joy because after we emerge we find God’s healing love and grace (Matt. 4:11). And we find that we are stronger for having been in the wilderness.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness (Matt. 9:35).
The village was the place where Jesus taught, healed and invested in the community. In the village, he called and taught his disciples. In the village, he healed the sick and embraced the outcast. In the village, he revealed the awe and wonder of God in signs and miracles. In the village, he confronted the powers of systemic oppression. He fought against violence and injustice. In the village, he ate, played and celebrated with those he loved. And in the village, he fought for those who had no voice. In the village, he died. And in the village he conquered death.
When we think of Jesus we probably mostly think of him in the village. He lived there most of his life. It was the village that raised him. The village supported him. The village that adored him. And, in the end, the village that turned on him. But, it was the village he never stopped loving. He died for the village. And he taught us all the good that village life could truly be – when consumed with the Spirit of God.
The village is the space that teaches us how to lead and how to follow. How to confront and how to forgive. It teaches us how to be selfless. We learn how to mentor each other, serve each other, and how to persevere in living out God’s purpose for our lives. In short, it is the place where we live out our faith.
The village is the place where we learn and confront and grow. In the village, we learn how to be in a relationship with each other. We learn to love each other in spite of our brokenness. We learn about intimacy and acceptance and forgiveness. In the village, we find healing and strength for living. In the village, we learn that we are all the same and that being together makes us stronger and braver and more beautiful.
The mountain, the wilderness, and the village – these are the three spaces where Jesus lived. These are, therefore, the three dimensions of life that this blog will address. My writing will be organized around these three spaces. Each space will have two broad sub-categories that I hope to explore over time. In Jesus, on the mountain, I will address the broad ideas of “Encountering God” and “The Spirit Life.” In Jesus, in the wilderness, I will address “Emotional Health” and “Self-Discipline.” In Jesus, in the village, I will address “Relationships” and “Leadership.”
Under each sub-category are countless potential topics to cover. These will be organized with tags. But, this, at least gives you a general idea of how this blog is organized. I pray you find it helpful.