One of the bad habits we have when reading the Bible is putting Jesus in a modern-day setting. We often picture Jesus talking to our culture, our friends and families, and even our enemies. That’s not to say God does not speak to us. Surely God speaks to all of us. The Bible tells us God is always present. What we often do is apply our cultural norms, definitions, and world view of Jesus. The culture in which Jesus grew up and taught was far different from ours.
Jesus would not know democracy in the form we practice it today. Jesus would not know women now have the freedom to make individual life choices. Jesus would not know of the LGBTQ community. Jesus would not recognize the worship service we enjoy every Sunday. Jesus would not know the New Testament.
In the world of Jesus, the spiritual was just as real as the material. There were designated places in each community where you could speak with the dead. There were caves in the wilderness and communities people thought led to the places of the dead. There were underground passages people thought led to evil spirits and places of eternal torment.
The Jesus of antiquity said, “Come follow me.” That’s a challenge for all of us.
The leaders of this world ask us to follow them every day. We elect them in hopes they will lead us to a better place. Unfortunately, many of them have different ideas of what this better place looks like. Some paint a picture where all of us have an equal amount of stuff and the exact same stuff. Some paint a picture of a world where everyone has equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. Some paint a picture where everyone’s basic needs are met. All of them borrow from Jesus. They paint a picture of Jesus based on their cultural biases and contemporary settings. Have you ever noticed that?
This new year ask yourself who is this Jesus? Have I painted my own picture based on my own cultural biases? Am I so caught up in the Jesus I want him to be that I really don’t know the Jesus who has been revealed to us in the Bible? This year take a new look at Jesus. Buy a book or begin a study that looks at the person of Jesus. I have started reading a book called Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg. Even pastors need to know Jesus
Rev. RJ Leek has served Gwynedd Square Presbyterian for over four years. Rev. Leek is a graduate of Dubuque Theological Seminary and began his career in Youth Ministry. He has been in full time ministry for over 21 years, and Head of Staff for the past 10 years.
He enjoys weightlifting, comic books, movies, history and following his favorite college and professional sports teams. He has been married to Trisha, his college sweetheart for over 26 years. They have three children Claire, Robbie and Chloe.
Feel free to stop by the office anytime to talk, tell a few jokes, or chat about the latest Star Wars movie.