Is Jesus the print that hung in the chapel of a Southern Baptist Church where I sat for children’s choir rehearsal? Is he the Jesus depicted in the beautiful stained glass window at the back of my childhood church. I wonder what Jesus thought as I sat week after week trying to follow the leaps of faith and logic required to accept the inerrancy of Biblical scripture? Was he amused by our selective editing of scripture and history. Was he honored by our cursory survey of his life and sayings? Or, was he offended that his story had been so distorted by time and the desires of powerful men?
Is Jesus the one followed by those who hate and harm? What is the understanding of Jesus when one yells angrily, “Jesus saves,” or waves a banner with the same message while attacking others?
Does it matter who I think Jesus is? I think it does in that it influences how I see and act toward others. I’ve observed that Christianity doesn’t have much affect on how people live or treat fellow humans, especially of other tribes, but I think it could.
To find Jesus as an adult, I’ve spent several years quietly rejecting past concepts of him. Easiest to reject is the Jesus of evangelicals. I was raised in the evangelical church and remain today out of a sense of family obligation. The evangelical Jesus has been the focus of many prayers since childhood. I can honestly, but hesitantly say, “I believe in God, the Creator of the Universe,” while rejecting the god and “Jesus” of what has now become the evangelical church.
I think Barzoni’s painting, or a Rebel Jesus, might be more accurate both historically, rationally, and spiritually. I also think Barzoni’s Jesus is more relevant. For sure, Jesus should be depicted as anything but the handsome white man on the wall of my children’s choir rehearsal chapel.
Here’s to Jesus, in all his complexity, inaccuracies, and misrepresentations. My only prayer to Jesus right now is, “Please accept our apologies.”