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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Humanity of Jesus



My religious "awakening" has little to do with buying into a belief system, but has everything to do with Jesus. I love everything about him, even his bursts of anger, because they make him so deeply human.
In A World Waiting To Be Born Dr. Scott Peck writes that he became a Christian after twenty years of dabbling with Zen Buddhism. He maintains that, without this training, he couldn’t have accepted the paradoxes of Christianity. Like me, he read the gospels for the first time in the second half of his life and that was it. Here is how he describes the effect they had on him:
"I was absolutely thunderstruck by the extraordinary reality of the man I found in the Gospels. I discovered a man who was almost continually frustrated. His frustration leaps out of virtually every page…I also discovered a man who was frequently sad and sometimes depressed, frequently anxious and scared. A man who was prejudiced on one occasion, although he was able to overcome that prejudice and transcend it in healing love. A man who was terribly, terribly lonely, yet often desperately needed to be alone. I discovered a man so incredibly real that no one could have made him up. “

No one would have made him so human, if the purpose was to turn him into God. The evangelists were doing their best to report accurately what they were told, even though they did not always understand it. Those who let the gospels speak to their heart will literally “meet” Jesus, this man who had so little peace of mind but so much wisdom, and will fall in love with him. Christianity is all about falling in love with Jesus, and for the atheist this is both despicable and inexplicable. I can accept the latter, in fact it’s difficult to explain in rational terms the reasons of faith, but I don’t see why it should be despicable. Love is what makes the world a better place, it’s an innovating force. Political leaders have been loved for their ideas, so why not a religious figure? A person who is capable of falling in love with an abstraction (which will be perceived as real in time) is a person capable of a higher level of spirituality, who can see beyond the material world. Religion is not about believing in the supernatural, it’s about experiencing something pure, transcendent, above our everyday concerns. Among Christians one can meet people who take life seriously, who let go of their shields and are open to one another.
I realize now that I’ve never taken my life seriously, rather I’ve lived as if I was playing Russian Roulette. Fun, that’s all I wanted. I never asked myself if I was being the person I really wanted to be, if I was living up to my potential. It was the encounter with Jesus that saved me from my stupidity.