Stay Thirsty

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To listen to this reflection as a podcast, click here.
Does this guy look familiar? 
He’s The Most Interesting Man in the World.
In truth, he’s an actor named Jonathan Goldsmith who starred in a series of TV commercials for a brand of Mexican beer between 2006 and 2016. 
Against a backdrop of gentle Spanish guitar riffs, a narrator would calmly recount the latest of his outrageous global adventures.  Then Goldsmith would declare, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I drink Dos Equis” – before finally signing off with, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”
Dos Equis retired him as the Most Interesting Man by means of a commercial in which he boards a one-way rocket ride to Mars, during which the narrator intones, “His only regret is not knowing what regret feels like.”
As it turns out, Goldsmith’s real life has actually been, well, rather interesting.   
The 84-year-old was born in the Bronx into a Jewish family of Russian descent.  His acting career has featured over 350 television appearances on 45 different series, including 17 episodes of Dallas.  He played five different cowboy “bad guys” who were shot dead at one time or another by Sheriff Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke.
Goldsmith admits he’s not particularly fond of beer.  But his years with Dos Equis turned him into one of the coolest bar flies in the world, and boosted that brand’s sales by more than 15%.  These days he’s starring in ads for a brand of tequila. 
He and his wife, who used to live on a sailboat off Marina del Rey, currently have a home in Vermont.  They’re active in a variety of charitable causes, including landmine victim support, intervention for trafficked children, and rescuing Siberian tigers.  In 2017 he published a memoir called Stay Interesting: I Don’t Always Tell Stories About My Life, But When I Do They’re True and Amazing
Does this actor / adventurer / philanthropist / man-of-the-world have any serious competition in the “most interesting” department? 
Jesus of Nazareth can give him a run for his money.
No one knows what Jesus looked like.  Not a single physical description was reported by his peers.  Yet no one doubts that Jesus and his earliest band of followers have been the subjects of more works of art than any other figures in history.  Typically, whenever we see a picture of Jesus, we simply know him when we see him.  
Jesus never wrote a book.  Yet Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, and Harvard were all founded as centers of learning devoted to his teachings.
In his book Who is This Man? John Ortberg points out: “It is in Jesus’ name that desperate people pray, grateful people worship, and angry people swear.  From christenings to weddings to sickrooms to funerals, it is in Jesus’ name that people are hatched, matched, patched, and dispatched.”
Humility, compassion, and forgiveness – three qualities scorned by the ancient world – became prominent Western virtues almost solely because of Jesus.
Ortberg reports that there’s no end to the groups who claim to be “for” Jesus:  Jews for Jesus, Muslims for Jesus, Ex-Masons for Jesus, Road Riders for Jesus, Wrestlers for Jesus, Clowns for Jesus, Puppets for Jesus, and even Atheists for Jesus.
During the first century, names like Caesar and Nero dominated the headlines.  “But today the names of Caesar and Nero are used, if at all, for pizza parlors, dogs, and casinos.”
Jesus’ name, meanwhile, is everywhere.  It’s hard to dispute that for centuries he has been the real-life Most Interesting Man in the World.
But that’s only a small part of Jesus’ attraction. 
If Jesus were merely “interesting,” we could walk away from him and get on with the rest of our lives, the way visitors to a museum might take in a particularly intriguing exhibit, then shift their gaze to the next one.
Jesus might better be described as the Most Compelling Man in the World.  He challenges our biases, unsettles our plans, and ruffles our feathers.  As the old saying goes, he may well comfort the afflicted, but he also most definitely afflicts the comfortable.
In short, he doesn’t leave well enough alone. 
He insists that we come face-to-face with the truth – including raw and sometimes painful truths about God, about the world, and about ourselves.  And just when we think we can’t possibly endure such unfiltered realities for another minute, he reveals himself to be the one man in the world who can save us – who can forgive us, redeem us, and set us on a new path.
One thing we can be fairly certain he won’t be doing is appearing in a series of commercials.    
But if he did, it’s just possible he might sign off by saying, “Stay spiritually thirsty, my friends.”