I am writing in this space about Jesus, whom I call the Christ. His name is part name, part title, as are most of our names, if we know them. If we do not know the title that is our name, no matter. we seek titles to put before and after our names, cluttering our person until the name does not mean much at all.
Jesus stood apart from that practice; He is recorded as refusing the title “Good” more than once. He will not be called Master by the empty headed, or God by the empty-hearted. He is consistent in His insistence on His title. He is Jesus, the Christ.
I want to write about Jesus. I want to know Jesus. I want to be reformed by Jesus.
If I hold true to my purpose, I will put out about 30,00 to 45,000 words on three titles, all about Jesus:
A Perfect Villain; A Fair Trial; A Life Sentence
As I put these from journal on to screen, you get the second try, if you bother to read the whole thing. I insist on the right to go back and edit, to alter the language, to find a new ritual, to discover (not invent) the history. I will be successful if I explain Jesus to myself before I meet Him face to face.
The Bible will serve as my primary source. Where the Bible seems to contradict itself I will try to resolve the conflicts, at least to my satisfaction, or as close to satisfaction as I can get.
Before my Fundamentalist brethren go apoplectic over the word “contradict,” go look at the death of Jesus and the death of Stephen. Ask yourself these questions:
- How long after the death of Jesus did Stephen die?
- Were there any persons involved in both ritual murders?
- If the people who murdered Jesus also murdered Stephen, why did they not have to appeal to the Roman powers to kill Stephen, as the Gospels say they had to do to kill Jesus?
There seems to be a contradiction here.
I assume the few who are still reading will have among them the fellow who says, “I just want to believe. I don’t want to have to know.” I was once that fellow.
I wanted everyone to assume God and go from there, like the Bible does, but Holy Writ was produced in religious times. Today, to know is required to converse. I am unsatisfied (not dissatisfied, which is very different) with the answers I have mostly accepted at (less than) face value. In my life time I have heard the Bible used in ludicrous fashion; to defend slavery, to assuage the feelings of racial bigots, to promote genocide, as though God is alright with the basest human hatreds.
Before long, I will, I know, see Jesus, the Murdered Christ, face to face. I am of the race, genus, species and gender that murdered Him. I would say I will have some explaining to do, but exactly what is my explanation? I need to know, not just hope. I am already guilty of His blood. I do not wish to use my religion to excuse other murders.
Yesterday, I wrote that I am an arrogant, self-centered, insular narcissist. Those are not good character traits, but they are not my biggest problems. Like men of my age, I notice race and gender and general otherness. Therefore, I am no less a racist, a sexist, a chauvinist than other men of my time.
(Do you ever think our lives would be better if we had never invented the suffix “-ist?” English speakers attach it to the most unlikely nouns and, in so doing, mangle the host word. We use the result to categorize our opponents. Then we, or at least I, find out our greatest opponent is the person who resides within us.)
Yes, here I am. I have these flaws. I do not wish to carry them into eternity, as I have lugged them along with me through life. I want to interrogate my bigotries. I write here to explain me to me and somehow inform myself. What I do with the information will decide my reformation, but first, I think, I need the news before I can become new.
Here are the premises I use to work out these three short “books:”
- Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God
- Jesus is the Son of Man
- Jesus’ death matters because He is completely God
- Jesus’ life matters because He is fully human
- If Jesus is not God, it does not matter that He died. If Jesus is not human, it does not matter that He lived.
This is the contradiction I must resolve, then, in order to become the interlocutor of my flaws. My personality I leave alone; it is the surface and easily resolved by my death. I want to re-etch my character.
Jesus, whom I hope to know, was a man of such unquestioned integrity even the Sadducees flinched when they lied to Him. Herod blinked. His old foes, the Pharisees, sped away from His trial. Some Pharisees took part in His burial. I wonder why.
Jesus, whom I will meet soon, is a person of great credere, the Latin word from which we take our word credit. The root word actually means “to believe.” People give you credit only when they believe you will make it good. People give Jesus credit. We believe Him, and may someday wrap our minds so tightly around Him that we are able to take the next step and believe in Him.
Jesus, whose career I wish to emulate, is a remarkable being. Men who travel with Him are so struck with His mastery of images (what we call ritual) they actually remembered how He served bread. As are all the makers of iconic imagery, He is a master of languages. He stands athwart history, bends it to His will, fits it to His purpose. There is no one else in history like Jesus, so it will not do just to study great men or valiant women. Jesus will have to be defined as He defines Himself. We would be sad to leave church to find Jesus, but the church seems as conflicted about Him as, well, me. We can go to some church meetings for years and seldom hear His name, except at Christmas or Easter, when everyone is allowed to visit for the day.
We just do not know what to do with Him. This has to mean we do not know who He is. Some people insist on speaking of Him in the past tense, as though He is more dead now than in the few hours before His Resurrection. I want to know Him now and so be reformed by how He informs.
I am going to write for awhile, not every day, but often enough to be annoying. Read at your own peril.