Two Books
Book Review: Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship

I've always thought of Jesus ...

I’ve always thought Jesus was the gentle type, a bit like Dr. Doolittle he can talk to the animals, someone always with a nice word to say, like one of those hippy types telling us its all ‘peace and love’ …

Well yes he was gentle, especially to those who were ostracized by others, but what about the time he got angry and cleared out all the stalls and tables in temple …

I’ve always thought Jesus as a bit of a scary judge, like a referee about to show me a red card … Jesus never seems to want anyone to have any fun …

Well yes he thinks it matters how we live, but most of his judgment is for those who spending all their time judging others. I think he also had a sense of fun and humour, what about the time he turned water into wine at a wedding, or scared his friends walking on water …

I’ve always thought of Jesus as the boyfriend I never had, beautiful eyes, long flowing hair, always speaking about love

Well yes Jesus did say a lot about love, but I don’t think it was love in a romantic sense, but love as a choice to treat others fairly, kindly and generously … and that choice to love others was sometimes a really hard one, especially when they hurt you, wronged you, or hated you …

I’ve always thought of Jesus as a really wise teacher, full of good sensible advice, profound thoughts and great stories, stuff that makes you go ‘that’s interesting’ …

Well yes, Jesus did have a great way with words, but it doesn’t always sound sensible, what about when he said, ‘turn the other cheek’, or told people not to ‘worry about what you will eat or what you will wear’ or ‘sell everything you have’ … he said some radical stuff, which only makes sense if he is the saviour of the world

I’ve always thought Jesus like one of those political activists, like Billy Bragg, Bob Geldof or Bono … always going on about feeding the hungry, or having a go at bankers, telling us to stick it to the ‘Man’

Well yes Jesus did believe that the good news about God was for the poor, the hungry, the oppressed … there can be no escaping the politics of his words and actions, but that’s because Jesus saw no difference between the political and the spiritual, between faith and justice … the message of Jesus is not just heaven when you die, but heaven on earth today …

I’ve always thought of Jesus as a bit like Superman but without the cape, a superhero, always saving the world, healing people, controlling the weather … he can do anything, like fly … why did Jesus never fly?

Well yes, Jesus did have power to heal and do miracles – this was a power that came from God … but Jesus was also a human being just like us, and the way he saved the world was through him dying a very violent and human death, not very superhero-like …

I’ve always thought of Jesus as saying impossible and even offensive things, like saying anyone can be forgiven, even paedophiles or mass murderers, even probably Hitler …

I think it's right in saying that some of what Jesus sounds offensive, it was offensive two thousand years ago, but Jesus claims that no one is beyond saving, no one is unable to be forgiven, the message of Jesus is that God’s grace extends even to the worst of humankind with the offer of forgiveness …

(A conversation during yesterday's worship, inspired by John Pritchard's Living Jesus, ch. 1)

Comments

David Kerrigan

This is excellent Andy - a reminder that Jesus can never be domesticated, never unthinkingly aligned with my theology, my convictions, my party, even my convictions. He challenges us all - with extraordinary love and great patience. Thanks for sharing it.

Geoffrey Colmer

Really like this Andy! Is John Pritchard's book worth a read?

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