I’ve got this friend. He’s called Jesus and I want to be like him!
And he’s my Jesus and he’s no one else’s! But that’s alright, you’ve all got your own!
My Jesus has got his habits: he does not wear black shoes in the synagogue and he’s always a bit late, thinking “well, no one has died – they’re probably just asleep”.
My Jesus often struggles with a bunch of people. These guys don’t really disagree with him, but they’re often annoyed at him. Bless him; he is bad at following unwritten rules, maybe because they were never really explained to him (a bit like cricket to a foreigner). I know he gets very upset when they pretend that everything is well, and it’s just to avoid fights; he thinks it’s really silly. I worry for him but he always says to me: “ultimately, it is in God’s hands”.
My Jesus doesn’t really like going to the synagogue, where people seem so obsessed with their purity rituals and their sacrifices. *I*, for one, would love to sit in the synagogue, make friends and eat cake. But he prefers to be a friend to sinners, those who sleep with someone else almost every night, those who cheat. He likes to spend time with former prostitutes, social activists and anarchists.
*I* don’t really like being around these people, but he loves them and they love him. They talk to him in a way they can’t talk to the priests in the synagogue. But I’ll tell you something: it was also them who were there when he was let down by the people of the synagogue, or, even, when *I* let him down. These sinners know they’re broken inside and helpless and my Jesus knows that it’s only God who can save them. He prays God works through him. All he says to me is that he cannot judge them.
My Jesus is a bit cheeky sometimes: he would make paper planes with the notes some of the women left near the keys of the synagogue, perhaps telling them, like he did to a girl in the village called Martha “you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Some have chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from them.”
I wonder whether my Jesus would like some of funky stuff I want to do when I’m older: it’s called behavioural economics. My friend, not Jesus, another one I want to work with one day has found out some really interesting stuff: he found that people who attend the synagogue are generally nicer and trusting of others, but only if these others go to the synagogue too. With outsiders, they behave like people with no beliefs. I’m sorry, it’s a bit embarrassing for me to say, but I think my Jesus would be quite blunt and call them hypocrites…
When I was younger, my Jesus was the one who I thought would protect me from my father because he would hit me if he found out I read the Scriptures in secret. My Jesus was the one who would protect the evangelists who risked their lives every time they went to Iran. My Jesus is the one who has protected for years my Egyptian friends who received death threats from a gang called the Muslim Brotherhood. I asked him why he had let us down sometimes. He responded: “let the dead bury their own dead, and follow me”. I think life does not matter to him so much, only what you do with it.
My Jesus often asks me questions:
Nicolas, do you love yourself unconditionally? Do it, because you know all too well that no one else on this earth will do it for you otherwise. I love you first and foremost through yourself!
Nicolas, do you love your neighbour unconditionally? Do it, because you know that he ultimately does his best, however messed up he is.
Nicolas, do you forgive others? Do it, because only then will you start breaking those cycles of violence that have often crushed you.
My Jesus knows that, really, he can only rely on God alone, and certainly not on me! My Jesus knows that people are unable to love and forgive in the way God does, even when I would want to think so – the world would seem much nicer!
My Jesus plants seeds of hope and hopes they will grow and bear fruit, leaving the harvest to God. I am not always that patient; I want to have the right wages for my labour now.
My Jesus believes that people really don’t know what they are doing, caught by spirits that are much, much stronger than them, and they cannot choose freely. I challenged him, but he said “if it was just a matter of choice between good and evil, my teachings and those of prophets before me would have been sufficient.”
My Jesus has now gone missing.
I looked for him in the synagogue. There, the people were worshipping their own Jesuses, but mine was not there.
I asked my friends, but they said they had never seen him, not even during those times I knew he was next to me.
I hear he was badly beaten by the Jesuses of others. He had survived gay-bashing Jesuses in the past, although he also then left me for several years. The Jesuses of others can be impressive: they have superpowers, even superpowers they don’t really need, and they behave like proud kings – not really like mine, but I like him. I know it’s silly, but maybe he just got discouraged by another Jesus: not a bad Jesus, but one who believes that being tough is always best. So he left.
I miss my Jesus and I want to go and see whether he is with my friends the monks, or maybe in the desert, in Arabia. I know he always liked these places, away from sinful cities and empty people, so I think I will go there and try to find him…
I wonder if my Jesus will come back. I hope so. I don’t know if he will look the same though.
But if he came back and asked me to follow him again, that, just that would be a miracle.