Who is Jesus to me? When I arrived at seminary, there was all this discussion of Christ. This Christ figure was God, away and distant who saved us. We then read this article about the White Woman’s Christ and the Black Woman’s Jesus. All this talk about Christ started making sense, but it wasn't where I was at. I understood Jesus, I felt Jesus’ presence, but this Christ person seemed to be pure – he didn't get angry (they could explain away being called hypocrite and vipers), he didn't make a mistake (hello – calling a woman a female dog). But the Jesus I followed got down and dirty with sinners, got angry when people didn't experience God in the presence of hurting people, The Jesus I followed laughed and cried, and loved God’s people. The kid who refused to say the magic words - that Jesus was my personal, savior (because I didn't do that flavor of Christianity) actually followed a Jesus who was among us and with us in the weeds of life.
I feel Jesus’ presence every month when I sit with some fellow followers to hear the stories, the pain that is there in our community. To hear of a man who lost his leg serving the country who shows his patriotic prosthetic, who this month had one too many bills for meds and the dentist, but laughed through life. Or the young couple who are trying to do the right things but work has slowed down and the babies coming. Or the man who just had something off and lost track of his energy bill. Or the woman who just left her husband, there’s fear and need. Every month I meet Jesus in our building in the people who are seeking help and in the people who are giving help.
When I have been in a rough place, we all go through those times when the one you love has left, the people you work with make you want to bang your head against the wall, and you wonder how to change it. In those moments, when I am ready, I can feel Jesus say I have called you, you are mine. When the little one runs up to you with a big hug, the awkward teen tells you what’s on their mind, and the adult comes to share their burden, those are the moments that Jesus seems close and moving with me. When I see the injustice – the jobs being sent to China in Freeport, the smog in Gary, the gay teen being bullied, the lack of medicine for the sick, food for the poor, and black and brown bodies locked up mostly for drugs – when I see the injustice I feel that push to speak up, act out, and say: Repent! Turn around, turn back to God and believe that the Kingdom is here. Jesus is by my side. That’s how I know Jesus.