In my last two posts (here and here) I’ve been touching on the main reasons why I continue to believe even when I don’t. Even though I am not always certain about the existence of God, I continue to hold onto the hope that there is one and that this God is up to something good. My frame of reference is the Christian tradition. There is much about the tradition and the church mouvement born out of it that I reject, yet there are 3 main reasons why I continue to believe even when I don’t. These reasons might not be sufficient for you. That is quite alright. They are enough for me.
The second reason is Jesus. He continues to intrigue me. I think we can find common ground even if we might not all agree about his divinity, resurrection and historicity. Obviously, conclusions surrounding these issues have important implications but those are not the point of this post. Jesus, whether he truly lived or is a fictional character, is intriguing.
We don’t have very much to go on when it comes to knowing Jesus but we have some interesting samples of his life. What we have shows us a man very much interested in the well being of humanity. A man who cares for those in need. A man who isn’t afraid to speak out against power hungry religions leaders and institutions. A man who demonstrates what it looks like to love one another.
Some of the criticism directed at the church today is warranted. There can be a genuine lack of love. The “us and them” mentality creates division and breaks down conversations. Interestingly enough, when we look at Jesus in the Gospels, he took issue with the organized religion of the time. Much of the critique directed at the church and church leaders today could very well be coming straight from the mouth of Jesus.
We all want to be seen as we are. We all want to know that we don’t need to perform in a certain way to be loved. We long to be seen. We don’t like hiding, but we do. Often without even realizing it. Exposing our true self can be risky. In fact, you’ve tried and you were hurt or rejected. So you don’t dare anymore.
The movie Avatar has a very interesting theme described in the words “I see you.” I see you beyond the physical person standing in front of me. I see all of you. I look beyond the shape and see your heart, your soul and your being. I acknowledge you as an entire person deserving of love and respect.
When reading through the gospels, Jesus is often described as seeing. “He saw” is a recurring phrase. Time and time again we find him seeing. He sees the person. He sees the need. He sees the humanity. He sees the brokenness. He sees the hunger. He sees the thirst. He sees both the physical and the spiritual needs. When he sees, he doesn’t try to manipulate. When he sees, he doesn’t try to coerce. When he sees he does not threaten. He lifts his eyes and truly sees.
John 1:47-48; John 5:6; John 6:5; Marc 3:5; John 19:26; John 4 (the woman at the well); John 8 (the woman caught in adultery). These are just some examples.
Jesus sees and addresses the needs. He heals, he feeds, he encourages. He also speaks truth to the heart. He sees what’s broken and offers the way to freedom. He doesn’t simply pat people on the back. He’s honest while remaining truly loving. He’s not afraid to call people out of their shit (also called sin) and invite them to a better way of living. A way of living which begins by acknowledging something is wrong and that we need help.
Jesus continues to intrigue me.
I have often tried very hard to let go of Jesus. I obviously have not managed to do that. Anytime I try and no matter where else I look, I always come back to these words from John 6:68. Jesus asks the disciples if they intend on leaving him. They answer, “Where else would we go. You have the words of life.”
What do you think of Jesus? It’s a loaded question perhaps. But simply put, when reading that question, what first comes to mind?