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How Do We Imagine Jesus?

Jesus heals paralized manIn a recent post, Christine Sine reflects on the images of Jesus that are popular among different communities, and how these conceptions can radically affect one’s discipleship and faith. She writes:

I have always been fascinated by how Christians perceive Jesus and love to chat to people from different theological and cultural backgrounds to explore this. I also love to collect images of Jesus from other cultures and have included some of my favourites in this post.

It is interesting to me that early Christians (and the Celtic Christians we so much admire) saw Jesus as a companion and a brother. It was only after the emperor Constantine became a Christian that the view of Christ shifted to more of an emperor figure. No surprisingly as Christendom took hold and wars became justified as holy wars we also started to see images of Christ as a warrior king.

Jesus washing Peters feet

Jesus washing Peter’s feet

The more I reflect on who Christ is the more uncomfortable I am with these images of Christ. In the gospels he is more likely to touch lepers and talk to tax collectors than he is to embrace the rich and the powerful. He is more likely to be seen in the face of a repentant beggar than in the face of a self righteous Pharisee.

Supper at Emmaus - He Qi

Supper at Emmaus – by He Qi http://www.heqigallery.com/

My own view of Jesus continues to change. I now see him in the faces of the homeless and the mentally ill. I recognize his love in the compassion of firefighters and ambulance drivers. I experience his heart ache in the grief of those who have lost children and friends to racial violence and war. Jesus is all around us. He stands at so many doors in our hearts that are closed to him and asks us to open and recognize who he is.

To read more from Christine Sine and Mustard Seed Associates, visit their website at http://godspace-msa.com.

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