Maybe it’s because Easter Just around the corner, but I’ve done a lot of thinking about homeless Jesus.
While I may not be the biggest fan of Christianity, I do admire Jesus. When I first saw this image, I was taken aback. Clearly I wasn’t the only one. A person called the police thinking this was a real person and others have called the statue creepy. The more I look at the above image, though, the more right it feels.
Who is Jesus to us today? Some may claim he is a stranger as more and more people turn away from organized religion. I, however, have met atheists and agnostics who seem to have far more respect for Jesus than most Christians seem to show. They are so distracted by the false idol of religion, that they neglect the Divine spiritual relationship they should be prioritizing. While atheists may not believe in any spiritual reality, I’ve met many who have a high regard for Jesus, the person and the revolutionary.
Looking at this statute, I am reminded of the kinds of people Jesus embraced and the kind he rejected. Disgusted by the political and religious leaders of his time, he spent his time with the lowlifes and cast outs.
“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.”
We don’t hear the stories of every person Jesus encountered. Did every prostitute who spoke to him cease his/her business at his word? Did every thief move on to an honorable life and every murderer turn him/herself in? I’d bet that answer is no and I’d also bet Jesus and any God worth worshiping loved them no less.
Love is God and Love does not require complete perfection to exist. Human love has limits. For example, the parents of a mass murderer may no longer have the ability to love their child. Divinity is different. As God is limitless, so is Love (you know, because God is Love). Of all the horrendous deeds committed by humanity, somehow we still feel the love of Divinity. Either we are an extremely arrogant race of beings, or very blessed.
If we look at most world religions, we find there is a commonality in trying to be good, moral people. At their heart, they attempt to provide a blueprint towards peace. Part of that requires us to accept those who are different and treat them with kindness. Yet, there is so much hate in this world. Christianity isn’t alone in the way it too often looks down upon those who act or believe differently. Many other religions do the same. You needn’t look farther than Americans fear/hate of Muslims (and probably vice versa) to see that.
When I studied abroad in Northern Ireland, I was amazed to see religion used as a tool for conflict. Fighting between Protestants and Catholics isn’t new to the European continent, but this is the 21st century. I thought for sure most of that was in the past. The frequent bomb threats I heard about and the ugly look people sometimes gave me if they found out I came from a Catholic family told me otherwise.
These conflicts between religions are more complicated and often more political in nature. Still, religion seems to insist on involving itself with politics. What happened, in America, to freedom and equality for all? Obviously we don’t have complete freedom of religion, because I have been in a number of churches which observer equal marriage (or gay marriage if you must call it that), but their marriages aren’t recognized around the world.
When we see the above image of Jesus, we see him as a poor man in need of help but we can’t see his face. What if we could lift his blanket and look upon his face? What would you do if his complexion was Middle Eastern or Black? What if he told you he had prostituted himself for drugs the other night? What if he told you he took his girlfriend to have an abortion the other week? Would you drop the blanket in disgust and walk away, or would you still try to help him.
None of us are perfect. Not one of us have a perfect moral or view of the world. We can’t all understand why someone would do things we find horribly wrong. Does that mean we should hate them? What good does that do to turn away from someone in their time of need, regardless of their past? Do we think we are somehow above others because of our ethnicity, because we avoided pregnancy before marriage or because we never sought drugs for comfort? Do we see ourselves as living the ‘right’ lifestyle and condemn others who live differently? That will do the world no good. Hate and haughtiness will only destroy us.
Who ever created that statue is a genius because it makes us really think about who Jesus is today. He is the poor, sick and lonely. He is every person you ever condemned. He is in the people whose rights are taken away by misguided politicians. Maybe this statute will help people see that and cause them to think twice before they spread hate.
What do you think of this statue? Do you think it is a good representation? Do you think being in a wealthy community gives this statue any more or less impact?