The Seven Jesuses Brian Has Known

Seven Jesuses! My goodness, that's a lot. I've got seven kids--seven completely different personalities. It can be a bit much to manage at times, but seven Jesuses? If you thought grasping the concept of the trinity was challenging, I can only caution: kids, don't try this at home.

His first Jesus was the Conservative Protestant. How familiar He was, and reading about him left me with a sense of both comfort and fear. This is the Jesus that I always perceived as taking the edge off of the Angry Father God. I met him as a child, reading one of those terrifying Jack T. Chick tracts that were everywhere in the seventies. Enough said.

His second Jesus, the Pentecostal/Charismatic one--now that's the Jesus I fell in love with. This wildly present Jesus was all up in a sistah's life, but I couldn't help but feel that my church was a largely dysfunctional family--the kind that yells and moans a lot, and throws dishes. This Jesus left me as tired, and frustrated, as much as He left me feeling loved and cared for. Or was it Jesus making me feel the more painful feelings? Maybe it was His people, claiming to know Him so well, yet missing the obvious so often. Where was the love and service of Brian's Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Jesus? Where was that love, with busy hands and feet, working in the community, so captivating in Liberal Protestant, Anabaptist, and oppressed Jesuses?

Finishing this chapter, I realized that although I may not have known these seven Jesuses by the names Brian gave them, I knew them all indeed, and more Jesuses than that. They all mingle, and overlap, and intersect, morphing in my heart and head into One Big Jesus, with many faces, still turning his head revealing more faces, more personalities, challenging my ideas about who He is, and what He requires. He is a mystery, ever unforlding. This One Big--and I like that word Big, inadequate as it is, this Jesus continously asserts His sovereignty. He simply refuses to be what I think He is. He outgrows me, every time, and in doing so, He grows me.

Thank God for every Jesus I have known, and every Jesus I have yet to know.

What about you?


+ simonas said...

btw, before posting a comment, i would like to thank JJ for inviting me to blogsphere (he got me blogging) as well as this particular blog. i have read only this free chapter that this post is about and i couldn't agree more.

i grew up in a catholic family (as most lithuanians did) and have known the mysterious jesus, who both cared for me as a child and yet remained largely unknown but in the sacraments. he did not seem to demand much from my life - i just felt the need to come to him with my night prayers (father in heaven, hail mary, and the apostles' creed - eh, throw in a prayer to the guardian angel as well).

who struck me was the jesus that cared not just for my life, but for the way that i live, and who was embodied in the living letters of anabaptists (mennonites and mennonite brothers) in the college. this jesus changed my life - really. but that's a longer story.

then there is jesus, who deepens my faith. today i preached on the holy communion (btw, our church is anabaptist - mennonite that lacks strict pacifism). as a group we decied to celebrate it every time we met rather than wait for every first sunday of the month, since the sacrament (in low sense) helps us to meet with our savior in faith.

i am still looking forward to meeting jesus of service, but i have heard of him a lot and have tried immitating him as well.

as one pagan friend of mine says, live and learn...

Karen Haluza said...

As an unchurched person I did not grow up knowing even one Jesus. An unchurched person will not be coming at an understanding of Jesus with the same denominational underpinnings that McLaren describes. We're still trying to learn basic Bible stories while, at the same time, trying to understand what it means to be "in a relationship" with Jesus. Telling us that there is more than one Jesus is overwhelming. We will insist that there is only one Jesus, that he should be the same regardless of what church you attend, and will not be able to understand why Christians quibble over that.

I once tried to explain this to a Roman Catholic woman who was in charge of the program that handled adult converts at her parish. Raised as a Baptist herself, and a convert to the RC as an adult, she could not fathom my request to continue attending my small evangelical church while joining the Roman Catholic church at the same time. It made perfect sense to me. It still does.

I guess I see Jesus as one aspect of the trinity. To me he is God with skin on. He's the reason that I know and believe that God is fully human, really understands us (because she is one of us), and really wants to be in relationship with us.

Bill Bean said...

"I am a Christian because I believe the real Jesus is all that these sketches reveal and more." pg 66

I'm trying to learn that my incomplete knowledge and experience of Jesus is still sufficient. I don't have to conquer him. I don't have to know him perfectly. I can't. Wow! As someone who has led worship many, many times I have been so concerned that people were worshiping the right version of God and Jesus. Seems I was even more narrow and presumptious than I thought.

asiatrek said...

mmmmmmmm.... this goes very well with a good cup of coffee..
Very fascinating comment .... Jesus is God with skin on...
this is great! on Monday.... just remember on Tuesday that Jesus is also God with his perichoretic skin on ; ) ... then on Wednesdy recall that Jesus "IS" fully/completely God ; ) ... then on Thursday recall that there is Only One God ; ) .... then on Friday recall that there is a perichoretic koinonia between the members of the Trinity ; ) ... this is my formula from any tendency towards Modalism or other controversial concepts (notice that i did not use 'heresy' ) >grin<
this is a great way to recall that Our Creator is definitely and intensely interested in pursuing us so much that in the ultimate final scenario we will be 'placed' in the midst of the perichoretic koinoinia between the members of the Trinity!