When Jesus entered the world, he was born -- in society's eyes -- an illegitimate child. The son of an adulteress. He was born in the equivalent of a side alley dumpster. In the first few years of his life, he was harassed and hounded as a menace to his own nation and was hunted down to be slaughtered, keeping his family constantly in hiding as refugees. He was born in poverty and disgrace, and returned there to grow up in the slums, known as Galilee, where the lower class lived with their embarrassing accents and tattered clothing.
He could relate to those who were looked down upon, excluded and mistreated because he experienced it first hand. He could relate with those who had a tarnished reputation because he grew up with one. He could identify with the unfortunate and poor because he had known of it his whole life. But he did more than just grow up. He came to stand up for all who were looked down upon. He came to take the side of all who were pointed out by society and the religious as unworthy, unclean or perhaps worst of all, invisible. Jesus saw everyone.
He didn't identify with the poor simply because they were poor. Rather, he identified with them because they were being excluded and treated unjustly due to their poverty. Jesus connected with those who had been rejected by other groups. Truth be told, Jesus is the ultimate outsider of all groups and labels -- he does not stand on the side of the rich or the poor, of men or of women, of black or of white -- he is on the outside of all these separate groups, and it is outside of them we are welcomed, no matter where we stand on the world's social ladder, to make our home and discover our true identity alongside him. On the outside we are called to gather. It is on the outside we begin to see each other no longer as different, as better or worse, but as family. As brothers and sisters. As one.
Yet Jesus did more than just identify with those whom society so easily cast into its shadows. He came to stand up to all the religious bullies standing behind their pulpits and holy robes, obsessed with twisting the God of love into some kind of split-personality mental case.
He went on record, talking openly while making his claims, that God does not consider it acceptable behavior for anyone to harass, suppress and abuse people because they hold a position inside a religious institution or have some kind of religious title before their name.
He came to be a light for all who were living in the darkness of the abusive and manipulative tactics of religious leaders. To the everyday person, he offered: "Come walk with me, for my way is easy." But to the religious leaders he declared: "And you self-appointed gurus in the Bible, woe to you, because while you load people down with burdens and responsibilities they can barely carry, you yourselves are not willing to lift a finger to help them!"
In every way, Jesus went against the grain of the strongly established social, cultural and religious prejudices and in doing so he broke this awful yoke off the neck of all who wanted to be set free from it. The yoke of the social, cultural and religious falsehood that measures people unjustly, that pushes people down, that keeps rank, that keeps count; that separates, that rejects, that oppresses, that disqualifies.
Jesus didn't come to build his own little group; rather, he came to bring us into a place where there are no groups. A place where we let go of the labels of the world. He did not come to create an army. On the contrary, he came to implant a truth so deep within the human heart it would have the power to end all armies.
Jesus showed us all by his life -- and also by his death -- that there are no outcasts or outsiders in God's eyes. There is no unclean. There is no lesser sex. There is no lesser color. There is no lesser race. There is no lesser human being.
God is Love. He has no tribe, no army. Rather, he has the world in its entirety in his hands. A humanity as a whole that he loves. Jesus came to break the belief in tribes (something religions radically embrace, demanding that their tribe be considered the only worthy tribe) to bring us into the truth that we are not divided by tribes, but rather we are united as one humanity.
He revealed that our reflection is not just the person in the mirror -- it is also the person across from us. Across from our political beliefs. Across from our religious beliefs. Across from our social status. Across from our suffering or our blessings. Across from the color of our skin. He removed the belief in camps and groups, in the lifestyle of separation and exclusion. Jesus revealed how all the reasons we believe make us different (and therefore, in our minds, justifies separating ourselves from others) only blind us from the truth.
Jesus showed us by his life -- and also by his death -- that there are no outcasts or outsiders in God's eyes. There is no unclean. There is no lesser sex. There is no lesser color. There is no lesser race. There is no lesser human being.
Jesus revealed that we are not different, that we are more than similar. He taught us that we are one. When that reality sinks into our hearts -- when we see each other as one family instead of two tribes -- right there, in our united hearts, heaven finds its home on earth.