I have lived with an au pair, cook, nurse, teacher, confidante, chauffeur, counsellor and disciplinarian. All these were my mother. She has been what I needed her to be at that exact moment. She has been all that and a whole lot more. She is my father’s wife, my brother’s mother, her patient’s nurse and midwife. There are lots of other relationships she has with other people, interacting with them in ways she and I never could.
She is my niece’s grandmother. Technically, she is my niece’s great aunt but we see things differently here in Africa. My niece was three when we first met. It was a memorable weekend that ended in tragedy when I told her that her grandmother was my mother. She was unimpressed. There was no way her grandmother could be my mother at the same time. We all reassured her, with hugs and kisses, that this was quite possible but her face was riddled with doubt. This possessiveness is understandable and comical in a three year old but disappointing in a church.
Each of Revelation 2 & 3’s seven churches has a piece of the vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-18. The Ephesians get to see Jesus with a firm grasp of seven stars and walking among the seven lamps (2:1). The persecuted church in Smyrna needs to see Jesus as the first and the last, once dead but now alive (2:8). No one church has the complete picture of Jesus.
We Christians spend an awful amount of time arguing. Each of us wants to slap a patent on Jesus. That’s silly because He is way too big to fit in our pockets. Yes, He speaks to each of us at our level but His back is bent when He does so: condescension. If He stood up straight, stretching up to His full height, all at once, He would be far more than we could handle.
Let’s be enthusiastic and humble. Enthusiastic because Jesus is what we need and humble because He is a lot more than we can fill in our hands and pockets. The seven churches would have to come together to get the complete picture of Jesus but even then, I think it would be more like a mosaic than a photograph. There is always something new to learn about and from Jesus even as we sit content with who He is today.