Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Loving Jesus?

Jaume, commenting here, makes what I think is a really good point. Would I like Jesus if I met him?

I was thinking about this the other day. It was probably during ecumenical worship here in college when I was singing hymns about loving Jesus. There's a certain strain of Christianity, and definitely Christian hymns, that says something along these lines, "Jesus is so great, he loves me so much, he looks after me, I can't believe how much he's done for me."

I sort of wonder if we're talking about the same Jesus. The Jesus I find in the Gospels isn't exactly cosy. Sure he has his soft side, but mostly he really challenges me. I think if I wrote a Valentine's card to Jesus he would write back to me saying rude things. I can't imagine the first reaction of the crowds listening to Jesus would be, 'oh, isn't he lovely, I really like him, he's really kind.' He wasn't the kind of person who you loved, he was the kind of person who you take a step back from while muttering something like 'oh, I've never thought of it like that.'

I suppose his disciples would have loved him, and he loved them. But it'wasn't the kind of unthinking adulation of a teenage girl for a pop star. Jesus always seems to be not let love become an excuse for neglecting discipleship. 'Blessed are the breasts that fed you.' 'No, rather blessed are those who do the will of God.'

With the greatest respect and love to my Trinitarian friends and colleagues I still think that adoration of the teacher represents a kind of spiritual immaturity. 'If you really love me, stop going on about it, feed my sheep.'


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can this also be said of Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs and Jews - and there teachers?

Or South Africans and Nelson Mandela?

Or Indians and Ghandi?

Some people inspire you so much that you naturally come to love them and what they represent.

Do not let the anti-Christian cynicism of some UUs prevent you experiencing the same.

9:08 am  
Anonymous plonkee @ the religious atheist said...

I always wonder whether I would perceive him more as I do Ghandi, or like David Koresh. At the moment I'm balanced on a knife edge on this one.

I find the whole "I love Jesus and he loves me back" thing very, very creepy.

12:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Koresh?

That's pretty offensive.

And I doubt you would publicly make such a comment about other figureheads of the world's religions.

I find comparisons like the one you just made very creepy.

3:00 pm  
Blogger Jaume said...

Some people have very desperate emotional needs and they compensate their lack of love by imagining a wonderful loving relationship with Jesus (this can be translated to other faiths --I have seen the same love affair with their religious founder among Baha'is, for example.)

What is really hard is to go deeper than this psychological lack and find true spiritual meaning in a spiritual teacher. And a good test for the validity of that connection is that it should make you more free, not less.

3:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Tolerant? Understanding? Open-minded?


5:21 pm  
Anonymous The jolly green giant said...

I think Stephen makes a very valid point. My experience was of a lot of romantic relationships with Jesus which while passionate and beautiful in there own way, were not fulfilling the ambitions Jesus had for those around him (in my own, narrow, particular reading of the Gospels). Many people rely on a loving Jesus to get them through an unloving world. I know, because I was one of them for quite a while. That's not a bad thing, but I hope Jesus would want us to question and challenge that situation.

Mel Prideaux
PS I own my comments! You own your response! I'm sad people would be so antagonistic... especially on this matter.

7:48 pm  
Anonymous h sofia said...

The Jesus I read about in the Bible did not seem to be much of a nurturing mother type. I admire his character, but it's harsh! He whacked people upside the head and told them to get over themselves, to stop clinging to the things of this world and demonstrate their faith.

6:07 pm  
Anonymous plonkee @ the religious atheist said...

Ok, rereading my comment, I can see why it might have come off badly.

I'll try again.

What I meant was I don't know whether I would perceive Jesus as an inspirational figure, or whether I would perceive Jesus as the leader of a radical fringe group with strange ideas that I wasn't interested in.

I bet, back in the day, people thought both things.

I stand by the creepy comment. That is exactly how it seems to me.

8:51 pm  

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