[This is part one of a series — part two is here.]
Adorning the murals and stained glass windows of 91.7% (rough estimate) of Christian churches in America is the depiction of an eerily Scandinavian Jesus in flowing robes ascending into the clouds flanked by angels and leaving the masses with knees dug into the earth below wallowing in shame, guilt, and fear.
American Christianity in its various forms has largely focused on this dying and ascending Jesus. This ephemeral being who lives above and beyond us. This figurehead to be worshipped and contacted through thoughts, words, beliefs, and adherence to doctrines. The point being eternal salvation and an afterlife insurance plan rather than tending to this life in a loving way.
I want to get closer to the living Jesus, not the dying one.
Now, I don’t want to hate on the Jesus depiction that I mentioned above. It marks a significant historical chapter of the human story and how we once related to the divine. I just don’t think a lot of us are there anymore — if we ever were (I know I’m not the only one, right?).
I’m not so interested in the levitating, water-walking, death-defying Jesus (though I am a sucker for an epic story). Rather, I’m becoming more and more enamored with the human Jesus. The one who demonstrated a way of life ripe with simple and profound human love, health, and well-being.
The Jesus I want to get to know was, to conjure the words of the great Rob Zombie, more human than human (any fellow Xennials out there?).
Love God and love your neighbor.
These were the commands above all else.
Do this, and you will live.