If it happened today, just that way, what would we do?
I have this tiny little dogging me, nipping at me, constant fear. I’ve sometimes confessed it to people. Maybe you’ve thought about it too.
What if Jesus Christ were a 21st century dude? I mean what if this wise but radically different guy – a Jew, no less (and a liberal, obviously) – moved to our town and preached good things and caused quite a media stir? And everything he said was right, quite right, actually, but you know, he was just – just – different.
Oh, and for the sake of argument, since this guy is the promised savior, let’s remember there is no new testament. There is no child born in a lowly manger in Bethlehem, who grows up to fulfill God’s promise, who is crucified with thieves on a cross more than 2,000 years ago.
Or who, having died and been hastily buried in a borrowed tomb, comes back from the dead three days later, walks again as a man and then ascends into heaven.
So yeah. We have no precedent. We have no magnificent story to rely on, to pronounce that we believe and this is why we believe.
What would I do? How would I react? Honestly, it scares me to think about it.
Me? Personally? Well, I’m not a “crucify him” shouting kind of woman, but I don’t know if that’s because I profess to being a Christian, or because I’m afraid of horrid deaths and I avoid blood, gore and suffering – and believe it or not, media circuses – as much as possible.
Honestly, I can envision my editor shooting me an email saying something like, “Hey, CCF, you’re my go-to on these kinds of stories. There’s this guy Jesus Christ, moved here recently. They say he was born of a virgin mother. (Yeah. Really. That’s a credential to have, isn’t it?) So he’s going to be preaching a sermon at the coliseum, and we’re hearing it’s already sold out – or would be, but there’s not going to be an admission charge. It’s free. He doesn’t have a cell phone, but we have a number to get in touch with one of his disciples.
“Could you interview him for a personality profile? We’ll need that Sunday, about 600 words.”
See what just happened. Stories could be due on Sunday, because Christians haven’t been invented, and no one assumes anyone is going to church.
OK, I would say sure, I’ll do the story. I love these kinds of things. Interesting characters make the best stories.
But would I like the guy? Would I accept him? Would I believe? Or would I be one of the naysayers? The eye-rollers and audible sighers? Would I write the story, but turn it in with a note to the editor, “You know there are quite a few naysayers. We might want to do a follow up with the other side.”
I think I know how I would have to honestly answer these questions, and it scares me, and it bothers me, but I’m not sure how I can correct that. However, since none of that is going to happen that way, since we all have the cushion of 2,000 plus years to be horrified by the ridiculous judgments and the passion of Christ’s final days on earth, I guess we can assume differently.
There’s been a Rick Warren (author of “The Purpose Driven Life”) quote floating around on Facebook lately, and every time I read it, I think, “We have to make this apply.”
Here’s the quote. “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
And you know, maybe that has nothing to do with Easter, but it made a connection with me, and I turned it into a thought process that intertwines with Christ’s teachings, to love one another, to serve and care for each other (especially the “least of these”) and to forgive.
My last year’s Easter column, began with a biblical verse – Micah 6:18. This year, I am choosing it for my conclusion.
“He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
May you be awakened and uplifted this Easter.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, living now in San Angelo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.