Yesterday in church we were asked, 'How do you think of Jesus?'
My answer was, 'I don't know.' On reflection I should probably have said a bit more. Like the fact that's it's a question I've been pondering for a few weeks. Ever since, in fact, a song was played in church that included the line, 'I have known you as a friend.'
People wrote their answers in the zoom chat and there were some that were sensible, some that were spiritual, and some that made me think, 'How exactly does that show itself?'
I must be a lot less spiritual than most people I think. Phrases that other people can reel off don't come easily to me. I'm a mixture of cynical - is that really true and meaningful to you? - and awed by their sincerity.
I struggle to think of God as father - though my head knows he is the ultimate and best - and I can't say I've ever thought of Jesus as friend exactly. Saviour yes.
But this morning I thought of what I should have said yesterday. 'Lifestyle coach.' On my good days he is what I aspire to be like. (On my bad days, well, let's not go there.)
I can grasp a practical Jesus. It's the spiritual one I have problems with. And there's no-one to blame except me.
What I need to do is remind myself of something I wrote originally many years ago, not about how I view Jesus but what I'd be like without him.
If I hadn’t met Jesus, I wouldn’t be a drug addict, that’s outside my world. Neither would I have just sold my wedding photos to Hello for $2 million. I’d still be just me.
Two thousand years from now, two hundred years from now, there’ll be no-one who remembers me. My life story won’t form part of a treasured historical document. I won’t go down in the annals of the church as a great spiritual inspiration. Just like my body, my history will have crumbled to dust.
Meeting Jesus changes lives. Now you might well be thinking that I’m hardly a good example of that. But what if I hadn’t met Jesus?
Then there’d be something missing — something that wraps itself around the helix of my DNA, that is as vital to me as the love that I crave. Most of the time I’m hardly aware of it and yet it’s always there, working for me, never against me, wanting the best for me, regretting when I mess it up but ready to wipe the tears and pick up the pieces. Again and again. A love force that can feel as real as the sun on my face or as distant as the North star. A hope that helps me to see the pinprick of light in the darkness. When I turn my eyes from in here to out there and I truly want to look and see, when I seek, then I’m found. Indescribable, inexplicable.
My story’s not dramatic or heroic, it’s more mistake than miracle, more flop than flip. I’m not a ‘good’ Christian but Jesus seems to be able to cope with that.
I could try and imagine where I’d be now if I hadn’t met Jesus but I don’t want to. Some places, like Skegness, just aren’t worth visiting.