Until I was 20 years old, I attended a Christian Science Sunday School and heard about people in the Bible. Sure, I liked Jesus, but he wasn’t exactly the be-all-end-all. In fact, to me, he rated somewhere behind Ruth, a working woman I could really look up to. Nowadays, with every "Praise Jesus" and "Thank you, Jesus" at my lively Community Christian church, I find myself drifting away a bit from the sermon, and lately I wondered why. Was I questioning Jesus?
Jesus made a huge impact on the world, but so did Genghis Khan. Why is it that I don’t question the pillaging, raping and all around madness that Genghis Khan is notorious for? I’ve never once questioned Ernest Shackleton’s grand adventures, nor have I debated George Washington’s role in U.S. history. I haven’t mused about Martin Luther King’s actual impact. To be fair, there is video coverage of how MLK and G-Dub’s revolutionary successes built the country I live in today. But what is it about Jesus that makes me hesitate when it comes to belief?
In truth, it’s all the mixed messages out there. Whenever I need to learn about someone, whether about Gandhi or Che Guevara for example, I simply flip open a few history books. Each book paints a different picture of these controversial figures, but usually I have no problem finding an author who shares my perspectives and who I can align my opinions with. When it comes to Jesus however, it’s not so easy. With him, people seem to be all in or all out.
I decided to take a personal journey of discovery, to decide if Jesus is someone I want to be friends with, not just fall into his clique because it’s what all the cool followers are doing.
In the book Science and Health, Jesus is defined as “the best, physically tangible concept of the divine idea that the human mind can conceive, correcting error and bringing to light our immortality”. This definition doesn’t give any blatant promises or make Jesus into someone un-human; instead it is very relatable, clear, and honest. This is a Jesus who I have no problem believing in.
When it comes to historical texts on Jesus, the Bible offers some pretty good accounts. In the Gospel Mark, chapter 3, there is a story that I particularly like. In it, Jesus has wandered away from his family to preach and chat about God with the people of Jerusalem and Jesus’s family comes looking for him, probably rolling their eyes – “That Jesus, always talking about God!” – HOWEVER, they aren’t immediately granted access to see Jesus. Today’s scenario could read:
Jesus’s Family: “Tell Jesus his mother and brothers want to see him! He hasn’t been home in days. He needs to clean the cat box!”
Bouncer: “Yeah, sure, YOU are his mother and brothers, like I haven’t heard that one before. Step aside. If you aren’t on the list you aren’t on the list.”
I come back to this story whenever I’m hit with the fear that Jesus was simply the beautiful construction of some brilliant fiction writer’s pen. This is because it seems like such an honest action from his family.I can relate, not only because I’d be a little concerned if my kid started preaching about God to multitudes, but also because I remember being a teenager who was compelled to do things that were less than ordinary or expected, even from my own loving family. Jesus responds by saying he is already among his family, essentially, that everyone following the will of Love is his family.
It’s hard not to trust a guy like that.