Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's all about Jesus

I am involved in an interfaith group and have a great deal of respect for most other religions. I believe in my heart of hearts that virtually all religions have some truth in them (and none, including my own, have all) and so have something to teach me. I also realize how much of what one believes is a result of culture and setting. Had I been born in Pakistan, I would likely be a good Muslim boy, in Tibet, a good Buddhist... you get the picture. I know at least a little abut a lot of religions and have good friends who are believers in a variety of faiths.

I marvel at the way my Muslim friends live their faith in their daily lives. I wish I had the centeredness of my Buddhist friends. I have a Hindu friend who has such an incredible sense of the Holy all around her... she sees God where I see weeds. I'm jealous of the deep roots my Jewish friends have. Even within the Christian tradition, there are very different streams - the seriousness of many conservatives, the dedication of many Anabaptists, the commitment to liberation in many minority traditions, the rootedness of the Orthodox... you get the picture. There are also religious traditions in which I don't have friends but I've still learned a little about them - the care the Jain have for all living things, the commitment to standing up for the oppressed that is central to Sikhism, the close community of the Mormons. Yes, I may misunderstand some of the traditions, oversimplify or give in to stereotypes, but I haven't run into a religious tradition that didn't have something I needed to hear.

As you can guess, I don't believe that everyone who doesn't believe like I believe is going to hell. I don't believe God requires one to be a follower of Jesus to find salvation. That is another discussion that I don't want to get into now - just so you understand what I believe and where I'm coming from.

So why am I a Christian vs. something else or some amalgam of a variety of traditions - a JewBu or ChristLim or whatever? Jesus. It is that simple. I find Jesus revolutionary, compelling, and impossible to ignore. When I think of God, it is always through the lens of Jesus. When I wrestle with truth, it is always through the lens of Jesus. When I struggle with my life and the direction I feel I should go, it is always in the context of the cliche'ed question, "what would Jesus do?" Jesus is the one who challenges me to be more, in whom I am inspired as to what that more might be, the one in whom I experience as close as I can get to the fulness of God.

I don't claim to have all of Jesus sussed out. Indeed, I don't think the Christian tradition has him all sussed out (which is why, even though I do believe that Jesus is the Truth, the Christian tradition doesn't have all the truth. We don't "have" Jesus, but hopefully he has us). And I know that there are lots of interpretations of who he is and was. We each see Jesus through a set of lenses formed by our background and culture and even preconceptions but however colored that picture might be, some of the real Jesus still shines through. So, my task as a follower of Jesus is to work to get better and better lenses until they are transparent and don't distort him at all... probably a never ending task, but one to which I'm committed. For me, it is all about Jesus.

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