If I look back to my childhood the image of Jesus knocking on the door, which hung in my sister’s bedroom caused me some concern. Jesus looked a bit ‘ghostly’, certainly not like anyone who I knew, and I was rather scared that one night he just might turn up at the front door. I was sure that my bedroom would not be tidy enough or that I would be ‘holy’ enough to invite him in. I wasn’t too concerned though, as I couldn’t imagine him turning up in our very working-class neighborhood. As I got older the images of Jesus changed from the long wavy blond hair blue eyed ‘holy serene’ looking Jesus to the more hippy, friendly, cool, but still white (with a bit of a tan) Jesus. There was still some disconnect for me as he seemed very busy healing people and saying what’s right and what’s wrong, and along with the visual images were the spoken ‘images’ that my ‘badness’ was the cause of his terrible death and suffering.
Thankfully my image of Jesus evolved over time to someone very different from those earlier pictures. I guess life has changed it. The people who have come into my life, books I have read, pod-casts I have listened to, study I have engage in, times of contemplation, worship, things which have happened to me, have all contributed to a new perspective. The greatest influence is God’s Spirit working with and in me on a daily basis, challenging my personal perspectives, opening my mind to the Scriptures in new ways, which reveals anything but a distant, exclusive, Jesus.
So, what is your image of Jesus? Importantly what is the image of Jesus that is communicated within your learning community?
- Rule maker or rule breaker?
- Exclusive or inclusive?
- Conditional acceptance or unconditional love and acceptance?
- Fixer or healer?
- Hero or servant leader?
- Provider of the answers or deep listener and question poser?
- Distant or relational?
- Transactional or transformational?
- Knowledge of God or deep devotion to God?
- Hierarchical or speaking truth to power?
- Punishing or forgiving?
If I had to describe my image of Jesus now it would be summed up in one word…. LOVE. A strong, inclusive, compassionate, active, courageous, humble, relational, patient, challenging, unconditional love for everyone, regardless of who they are and what they have or haven’t done.
What a gift, responsibility, and opportunity we have to live this expression of love with each other, within and beyond our learning communities. The best news is, we have been provided with God’s Spirit who cultivates in us the kind of love we could never generate on our own, AND throws in a few extras such as peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, joy and self-control as well.
John 13: 33 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.”