Sunday, March 16, 2014

Reasons to be Faithful, Part Two - a Pause in Lent

Welcome to our second pause in Lent. Whilst managing to browse most of the contributions last week, I don't think I commented - this week I'll try to do better! You can find all the participants in the blog list to the left, and it's great to read around and find out what other people are thinking and doing as Lent progresses.
My Lent posts this year are a very personal list of reasons to hold on to my Christian faith, after a I went through a rather alarming wilderness patch. It's honestly the first time in my life that I've had to look at faith 'from the outside', and actually, of course, this is a very interesting exercise. Scary, but informative. I hope that my reflections could also be useful to anyone else 'looking in' at Christianity, or at a life of faith in general, too.

So, last week I considered that my role models are Christians. Despite my doubts, they have an enthusiasm, a vitality and an honesty that I want. This week is looking at the person who is central to Christianity: Jesus.

CS Lewis concluded that it would be impossible to invent Jesus. A popular example of an invented 'good person' is dear little Pollyanna. Or is that 'insufferable little Pollyanna'? Personally, I enjoyed those books and think the author had a good point. But Pollyanna is a bit irritating, you have to concede (don't you?) or at least we can concede that she is controversial - like Marmite, you love her or you hate her. I know this because my own family was divided in childhood over those books, and my own dear mum found Pollyanna insufferable! I think that the trouble is that one author (Eleanor H. Porter) just didn't have the scope to make a truly good person also truly loveable to all. There is sometimes an urge to shake such an annoyingly optimistic little ray of sunshine...

But I really don't think that anyone wants to shake Jesus. In the Gospel accounts he is truly good but also truly likeable. I remember one friend (we were in our twenties) who turned to me during a discussion and raged: 'I hate God, but I LOVE Jesus!' People who don't like authority, who don't trust religion, who have bad experiences of fathers or of men in general, may have a very bad feeling about how they imagine God, but they can't find much to say against Jesus. He draws people to him, through the written stories as in life. Do I really think that a bunch of variously-educated First Century men could have been the only people to ever successfully invent (or embroider) stories of a good person? I don't. I think that the reason for these stories of such a powerfully loving, counter-cultural, Godly person, is that he truly existed, and that he existed as the stories tell. No individual (or group) could invent him.


Kezzie said...

That is SUCH a true and good point!!! You couldn't invent Jesus. He is likeable, good but true and never insufferable!x

Pom Pom said...

We're odd, aren't we? We humans think that what we think is so thoughtful. Ha! Jesus is beyond our imaginations, beyond our ability to identify. I find it so reassuring, this Mystery we follow. I love reading the book of Acts because it's so unbelievably powerful.
Pollyanna. I know I get my ire up a bit when friends aren't good listeners and invalidate my opinion by "putting on the positive" just for positive's sake. I think our JOY is often just between us and Jesus, not intended to bowl people over. He doesn't need us, but He wants us. Yay! Thank you so much for doing the pause again, dear Floss.

Betty said...

I have been in a wilderness patch for about a year now, looking in from the outside. Today I came upon this little church in the woods, door open and nobody there - I went right in with youngest boy and we prayed for a while, it felt like home - a few weeks back I went to a similar picturesque church and found the same feeling at the evening of singing - at the time I thought the 'good feelings' were because it was such a beautiful place, but from today I am coming to realise this feeling of 'home' and 'special' isn't the place (however beautiful) it's the Spirit within.

GretchenJoanna said...

The story of your friend who hated God but loved Jesus - so interesting! Well, that must be why the Father sent the Son to be With Us, to show us the Father.
... and it reminds me of a very dry time I went through, when I felt that I was losing my own personal connection to God, and getting distracted by -- everything? My intuition was to read the Gospels, to immerse myself in JESUS, the things He did and said, so that I could fall in love with Him again. And it worked. Thank God! And thank you for a very helpful post, Floss!

@gaz112 said...

GretchenJoanna - a very good point - it is indeed true that we can't come to the Father except through Jesus.

Thanks for this post Floss.