The Modern-Day Jesus
“… One man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change … ”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
When I was a little girl, I thought that Jesus was this magical guy who had powers beyond any other mortal being’s to forgive anyone for anything. Today, I’m not sure sure this is the case.
My belief ultimately stemmed from a Sunday school lesson. I can distinctly remember the teacher saying that Jesus loves all, and throughout time and throughout my changes of heart, I’d like to think this is a variable that has never changed. As a girl who currently considers herself agnostic, I still think of Jesus as the one who actually loved everyone.
And as I recall my Sunday school lessons, and as I remember all the good deeds Jesus did, I can’t help but think of him as the original hippy, the original protestor. He loved the poor, befriended those who sinned sexually, and was a generally neat guy. Indeed, this was the man who was ultimately prosecuted for saying, “wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be nice for once?”
But now I think the idea of Jesus has been rejected. The idea that Jesus wanted healthcare for everyone, and loved the Earth despite the way it turned against God. He was furious at the way religious leaders spread this false message and painted this lie of what God was.
History teaches us so many invaluable lessons. A notable one: technology always has a way of changing the game. When the Guttenberg press was invented, the Church was practically denounced. Instead of monks tirelessly handwriting Bibles, they could be printed in a fraction of the time, thanks to the easy to adjust pieces of type. Now that more and more people had access to Bibles, they saw through the lies of what the Church said in the name of God, fact checking their religious leaders by digging into the Ultimate Truth ─ God’s truth.
So how does a 2000-year-old concept like Jesus work His way into modern society? For starters, maybe He doesn’t. Jesus worked when society wasn’t based on capitalism. When we didn’t have closed borders and passports. In a way, He was able to do what He did because there was no one there to capture it all on camera. The whole precipice of Christianity, after all, is based on this radical concept of faith.
To be a Christian is to Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and that He saves. To believe is to accept or feel that something is true. The concept of faith itself is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. The Bible (Hebrews 11:1) defines it as the assurance of things hoped for, and the things unseen.
Christianity is, at its core, putting one’s faith in a man who, theoretically, we’ll never meet until it’s time, that He died for our sins, and that we should live according to what He taught. A Christian believes that nobody is perfect and that Jesus, although knowing of our actions, saved us from all sins. Yet somewhere along the line, people seem to forget the latter. They forget about Grace.
Critics argue that it’s impossible to actually believe in a book that has probably changed thousands and thousands of times throughout history. ExChristian.net has a Gospel story quiz in which any answer you answer is wrong, according to verses found in the other answer’s Gospel. (The books compared were Matthew and Mark.)
And yet this book is the most popular book of all time despite being lost in translation over hundreds of years of rewriting and translation. There are well over a dozen different versions of the Bible, and even the same versions can read differently, depending on when the Bible was printed. To this day, I remember arguments about whether or not Jonah was swallowed by a “large fish” or a “whale,” like the VeggieTales movie portrayed when it was released back in 2002. Apparently, either can be right and wrong, depending on the edition of the Bible used.
From there, the Bible is interpreted uniquely to the reader’s point of view. Now, this is not all innocent or guilty, but it could even be as simple as using it as a metaphor. When Jesus was hungry in the desert, tempted by the Devil, this hunger is probably viewed as a reader’s unique temptation or lust experience at the time.
The biggest struggle for me is the concept of the Trinity. My biggest trouble with looking back at my Christian upbringing is interpreting God and Jesus as entirely different concepts:
Jesus is this empathizer who loves everyone to the point where he was willing to die an awful death for his peeps. He took the time to check out everyone’s perspective and find common ground, a solution. I see Jesus’ characteristics personified today as Bernie Sanders. This is not me saying that Bernie is the Son of God; rather, he’s extremely down to Earth and wants the best for everyone.
But God is this confusing guy who contrasts the character of Jesus. He made this “perfect world” and within it, he created such a flawed concept of someone who is the spitting image of Him. Despite the free will He has endowed within His creation, disobeying god has literally been made synonymous with trials,tribulations, and an afterlife spent in Hell. Don’t believe in Him and you die. Sin, and your sins were at one point (the time of the Old Testaments) was worthy of animal sacrificing before Jesus came along.
One could argue, for example, that Adam and Eve had free will designed by their Creator that led them to eat the poisonous fruit. (Hilariously, Eve was the temptress, but nevermind that the Devil interfered. Plus, I think Satan’s fall as an angel came long before the story of Adam and Eve, but I really haven’t done much reading in Revelation outside of the Left Behind series.)
I can get behind the Jesus character quite easily, seeing how He seems like the most laid back guy, but God just seems way too mean and nasty. Where Jesus is loving before judging, God seems to be the opposite.
And then comes the confusing part where you can’t have one without the other because of the Trinity. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit: separate beings, but all the same persona. Saint Patrick compared it to a shamrock or clover; to me, it’s confusing because I can’t exactly pick and choose what I like (or dislike) about the Godhead.
So, where do I go from here? Well, I don’t know. But I take comfort in my questioning, whether than what I know for certain. I love studying scientists and questioning how everything is done. But in Christianity, there’s little room for questioning as much as their is facts; it’s the Bible or bust and if you don’t believe in it, you’re in trouble.
And what I do want to study is so controversial to what modern Christianity seems like today: helping the poor, the people who need medical help and insurance, the refugees, and those who are vastly different from who we are.
That’s not my desire; that’s just what I thought Jesus told us to do.