I was asked to do some searching this week and come up with some videos that explored the question of who is Jesus.
As I swam through the ocean of material that is the internet, I was met with a whole series of different images, ideas and suggestions. There were the obligatory random vox pops, the heavily evangelistic message clips and of course the plethora of skeptic/denier videos.
In the midst of all of this I realised, from each of the productions, that the image that was being portrayed was the product of the deeply held ideas and beliefs of their creators. Regardless of whether or not I agreed with the portrayal that had been created, this was how they saw Jesus and thought was best to communicate his life and ministry with the world. Each of these productions flowed from the worldview of the individuals putting them forward. And as I evaluated them, I realised that I too was doing the same, I was judging the worth of each insight on the basis of how I perceived Jesus.
Contemplating a loving God strengthens portions of our brain — particularly the frontal lobes and the anterior cingulate — where empathy and reason reside. Contemplating a wrathful God empowers the limbic system, which is “filled with aggression and fear.” It is a sobering concept: The God we choose to love changes us into his image, whether he exists or not.
“The God we love we change into”.
While not a new idea to me, this concept struck me afresh as I considered this question of who is Jesus.
Then, to further flood the river of my mind that was awash with these insights, I stumbled across an article telling the story of a frog who’s head exploded.
Unfortunately, when he sees the ocean, the shock is so great that it blows his mind and his head explodes.
The author recounting this story goes on to reflect on it’s application regarding his Buddhist beliefs.
What’s required is a sense of humility, which will render us open to the teaching. The traditional analogy that illustrates this positive approach to the dharma is that of a vessel placed right side up so that it can be filled with water. This receptivity is not to be confused with credulity, nor a hurried reach for certainty when the teachings get difficult. It is rather a readiness to attend to the words and meaning of the teaching, and to persist in critical reflection until it is digested and becomes a part of our thinking.
As I read this, it struck me that in each of the instances where you read dharma or Buddhism, you could replace it with Christ and Christianity.
And so I find myself considering once again, who is Jesus and how is it that I’ve tried to contain him to my pond of understanding. Where do I need to release my prideful and unquestioned beliefs that cut me off from an ocean of such breadth and depth of Jesus that lies beyond my vision. How can I look beyond my pond to discover the ocean that awaits us of God? How can I love this God more openly and fully be transformed into their image without my head exploding!
What I do know is that with this fresh in my mind, I need to go exploring beyond my pond!