When I was professor of religion at the Baptist College of Charleston, I suggested to my religion students that when they could not think of what to say to talk about Jesus. Two of my students went to visit one of their classmates to invite him to come to the Bible study that they were having once a week in their room. When they knocked on the door, they found the student was talking on the phone to his girlfriend and was busy studying for a test. He barked out at the two guys: “What do you want to talk about?”
One of the students just smiled and replied: “Jesus!” The guy went back to the phone and said, “You won’t believe this, but two guys just came in to talk to me about Jesus. I will call you back later.” He hung up the phone, and said, “OK, now talk.” As a result of this simple approach, the two students shared some materials with their friend and he decided to become a Christian and joined the Bible study group, and later he wrote a statement of his new found faith and published it in the college newspaper.
Talking About Jesus
My life’s work as given in my website and book has been basically “talking about Jesus.” Now that I am preparing a new book on the subject of “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up,” I am reviewing my own writings and years of personal journals. Who is Jesus? More important, who is Jesus to you?
What differences and contrasts do you see between Jesus and religion? Look at the recent article by Bill Moyers “There is no tomorrow.” We are living in an extraordinary time of the decline of common sense and a neglect of objective, logical, reasonable, practical thinking about just about everything. Bill Moyers spells this out in his powerful informed analysis of where we are headed in our current religion/political headlong plunge into abysmal ignorance.
Discovering the Real Jesus
Look within yourself and ask yourself who Jesus is to you right now. Pray. Let God help you through the Spirit to understand and accept yourself. You cannot accept Jesus until you accept yourself. You cannot discover Jesus until you discover yourself. Your image of Jesus is directly influenced by your own image of yourself. Jesus in the Gospels is the ideal expression of human nature that God intended for you and me to experience and enjoy.
Jesus is pictured in the Gospel of John giving a summary of who he is and who you are: “Love one another just as I have loved you.” I still recommend that you give yourself a quiet undistracted place and time to read through the Gospel of Mark in one sitting. Use a modern language version like “The Good News Bible,” which was prepared to be simple and quickly read by people who had learned English as a second language.
Prayer is simply turning your attention to your spiritual resources that are already within you. You do not have to beg God for anything. Like any loving parent, God according to Jesus is already ready and able to give you whatever you need. You do not need any ritual or church or priest or preacher to enable you to communicate with God and to receive everything that God has prepared for you to live a full and meaningful life.
Learn to meditate. I am beginning to grasp just how complicated and yet simple meditation can be. Find the path of inner exploration and peace that fits you. The Old Testament suggestion: “Be still and know that I am God” literally means “let go and relax.” The Hebrew means “cease striving.” Religion and churches teach you to struggle and strain and work out everything. You don’t have to do that! God has created you in God’s image and given to you the Spirit and love in great abundance. You are never a lonely pilgrim trying to make your way over a path of bloody rocks and threatening shadows. You are a child of the Creator and a follower of Jesus, and you will succeed. You will make it. You will find the path that fits you.
The author of Invitation To Freedom and Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse, Rev. Rembert S. Truluck served in Metropolitan Community Churches in Atlanta, San Francisco and Nashville from 1988 to 1996. He earned a doctorate in sacred theology from Furman University, serving from 1953 to 1973 as a Southern Baptist preacher. He resigned as a professor at Baptist College at Charleston (now Charleston Southern University) and became an MCC pastor after being outed to the college’s board of trustees.