2015. Many of us are probably saying good riddance to 2015. Glad to have you behind us. Let’s move on to better days. Kicking 2015 to the curb.
Many others are doubtful that better days are in the offing in 2016. The economy may be better, but the headlines are not. Our newsfeeds have become minefields. Man’s inhumanity to man has become the stuff of epic legend. Plus, it’s an election year. So there is that PTSD to look forward to.
I suspect most of the news is not really new at all. It’s just that many of us have been afforded immunity for a long while. We have been the monkeys who never had to see, hear, or feel evil. Now we do. And I have to admit, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
So as I pondered what to begin 2016 with, I thought, start with Jesus. OK, that’s not exactly a new thing; I hope most of what I write starts with Jesus. Plus, it’s the classic Sunday school answer.
What should I write about? Um, Jesus? Kid in the front row, for the win.
But the world wants Jesus. I truly believe this.
There is a hunger in the world for a hero. For someone who is better than we are, who is powerful enough to make things better, who offers a transcendence we crave but hardly hope to believe in.
We didn’t make a new Star Wars for nothing. It’s one, limited answer to a hunger pang we can’t satisfy.
Make no mistake – people who are wary of God-talk don’t want Jesus as we have portrayed him all too often. They don’t want sanitized Jesus. They don’t want white American Jesus. They don’t want Jesus-lite. I am convinced, though, that when people say they don’t want Jesus at all, more often than not they don’t know who Jesus is. More often than not, it’s because we’ve presented the wrong Jesus.
So what if we found out who the real Jesus is? What if we asked the real Jesus to stand up? What if, in response to all the young people leaving the church because they don’t believe in what we’re teaching anymore, we offered a Jesus they could love? A Jesus they could trust? A Jesus that did not look like us? A untamable Jesus who both loves and speaks truth with relentless purpose? Or as N. T. Wright posits,
“We might discover if we really looked a more disturbing, more urgent genius than we ever imagined.”
That Jesus they could believe in, perhaps.
Maybe that Jesus you feel like you could believe in, too.
“If Jesus was a figure of history, we can try to discover what he did and what it meant in his own day. We can try to get inside the Gospels to discover the Jesus they’ve been telling us about all along, But whom we had managed to screen out.”
So I’m going to start the year searching for that Jesus. Let’s look together. Let’s strip away all that we have added to Jesus and assumed about Jesus and attributed to Jesus and just Look. At. Jesus. It may not sound exciting. Not as rewarding as Five Easy Steps to Better Whatever. But I think we know better.
I think we’ll be surprised.
I think we’ll be uncomfortable.
I think we’ll be curious.
I think we’ll fall in love.
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