Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books which significantly re-constructed my view of Jesus’ human side of life here on earth. It all started when I got acquainted with John Ortberg, a Teaching Pastor in Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, who seemed to have unusual expositions on some regular gospel texts which I thought I already figured out. His book on Spiritual disciplines gave me a sort of an introduction to this unfamiliar world which I’ve always felt to be true in spite of my limited knowledge on the subject matter. And because of his frequent references to his mentor, Dallas Willard, I curiously bought his mentor’s book “The Divine Conspiracy” and accidentally opened Pandora’s box. Dallas Willard’s in-depth discussion about the central message of Jesus helped me see, what I’ve been missing out whenever I try to make sense of the Bible, God or the Church – the Kingdom of God. It also encouraged me to dig deeper and under take the challenge aligning myself with this new discovery.
I believe Philip Yancey experienced the same episode in his life and wrote a book about it which he entitled “The Jesus I never knew”. Yancey is a Christian writer who also wrote best-selling books like “What is so Amazing about grace” and “Disappointment with God”. His honesty and transparency about these hot issues about Christianity arguably help his secular readers identify with him and his Christian audience respect him. He was able to convey sincerity and integrity by using his experiences with his own church whether good and bad.
He opened the book with a chapter exploring specific and odd beliefs people in our world have with this man, we all call “Jesus”. He mentioned a lot of examples from the popular media portraits of Jesus, either movies or books, in which he concluded: We all need a clearer and fresher vision of who Jesus really was because the” Jesus” being portrayed in our times has been distorted by the mere familiarity of it all.
Sadly, his observation is also true here in the placee we call home. Brought about by colonial imperatives of foreign religion, our people’s understanding of God was either distant or absent. I noticed this during the last Black Nazarene Parade when various “faithfuls” flocking the statute of the balckened-image of Christ and clamoring just to touch a part of it. Others might call it devotion but I believe it reflects the sad reality that for most of us, God an is unreachable God.
But, this is not the God revealed by Jesus during his life here on earth. Jesus’s relationship with God is marked by his constanst presence and manifestation. He is a God whom he personally calls “Daddy”. A father who always provide our “daily bread”. He is a good God and imitiately aware of his son’s and daughter’s need. A parent who even had our hairs numbered. For Jesus, an unreachable God is far from reality.