I’m pretty sure I like the cosmic/spiritual/mystical Jesus better than the Other Jesus. Let me explain.
The cosmic/spiritual/mystical Jesus is the one that is with me and among us when we gather in his name. Matthew 18.20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” He is risen, triumphant, complete, and pure. There is nothing he needs from me, and honestly makes no real demands on me. He is easily dismissed when I need to gossip, envy, or cop an attitude. And, when I’m feeling lonely…he’s always ready to come back. I like this CSM Jesus. He’s pretty agreeable to my agenda and demands.
Of course, then there is the Other Jesus. Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
This Other Jesus is around me every day. He is young, old, male, female, overweight, and skinny. He is red, yellow, black, and white. He is rich, poor, addicted, clean and sober. He is a beggar, a prostitute, a politician, and a host of other people. He is broken, horribly so. He is also really popular, good looking, and athletic. He is a conservative and liberal. He’s an activist, pacifist, philanthropist, and thief. He is HIV positive, gay, and straight. He is the least of these, and the best of us. I am surrounded by this Other Jesus. And honestly, this Other Jesus isn’t easy to be around.
This Other Jesus is so needy. He is hungry, sick, in jail, a stranger, naked, thirsty, and lonely. This Other Jesus demands my time and attention. This Other Jesus costs me something.
I am forced to make choices with this Other Jesus. I have to choose between meeting my needs/desires/wants and taking care of his. He asks me if I could spare some change. He is out of gas and needs to get to an appointment. His rent is late. He needs food for his kids. And the sad part is that often this Other Jesus is just going out to get drunk or buy drugs with the money. So, I have to be creative with this Other Jesus. It is all quite troublesome.
The Other Jesus isn’t as easy to ignore as the CSM Jesus. He’s a lot like those pictures that look like their eyes are following you around the room. Well, this Other Jesus isn’t a picture and his eyes are following me around room. I often act like I can’t see him by pretending to look at something in the distance, I can see him out of the corner of my eye with that stupid sign “Will work for food.” He’s always looking at me, staring at me, wanting something.
I don’t want to be with the Other Jesus, but he demands my attention. Ignoring CSM Jesus costs me nothing. Ignoring this Other Jesus costs me everything.
Lord, give me eyes to see and the courage to help.
3 thoughts on “The Other Jesus”
The other Jesus forces us to constantly evaluate our understanding of who God is and what his plans are, while the CSM Jesus simply makes us feel good. I would argue that this CSM Jesus is not Jesus but rather the image of the Jesus we often would rather have.
Your post reminded me of McLaren in Generous Orthodoxy. Only in this case, it is all the possibilities of where Jesus would be even if no one ever claimed Jesus in those places and among those particular persons, instead of all the ways one might already be a follower of Jesus.
We forget that Jesus, that other Jesus.
Does it ever happen to you that, the more you try and ignore OJ, the more he/she/them seem to surround you and fill your eyes and ears? You go out into the world, full of self-loathing, anger, and general piss and vinegar, thinking that no one could possibly feel like you, live like you, hurt like you. Then you see that mom with her child, living in a shed behind an empty home she can no long afford to live in, or the old man, wearing a dirty overcoat, covered in plastic, balancing on his bicycle in the snow, or the half-sister that you hoped would suffer for what she has done then when she does, it kills you just a little bit. As hard as you try, you cannot possibly hold on to the shell of me-ness, and you realize that you are not as alone as you think you are, and you could be lonelier than you have ever been in a heartbeat.
Maybe it’s just me…..
but I hope not.