Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

I woke up angry again this morning. It’s Sunday and this is the day that a lot of us Christians go to church. But it’s also another significant day; it’s the Sunday after election Tuesday. And so the tweets, Facebook statuses and comment sections are particularly calculated in how people have decided to express themselves. I’ve been paying close attention to how our Christian leaders are responding. On the one hand, one leader says that she’s never had such a heavy heart preparing for a Sunday morning before, while another tweeted that he believed God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to “stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control.” One leader says they’re angry and want to see God’s justice during this “trying time for our nation” while another in his excitement, prayed God would grant the newly elected leader with “the heart of David, the vision of Daniel and the wisdom of Solomon.” Huh? Which one is it exactly?

We have all quoted and know by now that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. I know that and I’ve heard the phrase many, many times. But I’m going to be honest in saying I didn’t know just how true that was until today. I mean, I’ve known that we were segregated in ethnicity. It seemed like the idea was to get the church to a point where we could worship together alongside one another. As a result, many churches have gone in the direction of modifying that divided climate. Now, many of these are churches with so-called ministries of reconciliation pride themselves on the idea that when you look out into their congregation you will witness a sea of multiethnic faces. I was once one of those people who prided herself on attending churches where the people in my pew were people who didn’t look like me. How beautiful to worship with one another in Christ. There is no this church, or that church, we were One Church and One Body.

But I think somewhere we went wrong when we began to focus on the intent behind that being just about color, because that’s what it has turned into. A great photo opportunity to throw onto websites or promo materials to show that one Black face or that one Asian face. We’re learning now, the hard way that is just not enough. The reality of the deep theological, racial and philosophical differences are being unveiled. You might be holding my hand in prayer, and while i’m praying for justice for Trayvon Martin, you’re praying for the innocence of George Zimmerman. You might be holding my hand in prayer, but while I’m praying God would provide a place for the poor and marginalized, you’re praying ”those people” would just go away. You might be holding my hand in prayer, but while I’m praying for the walls to come down, you’re praying the walls would go up. You might be holding my hand in prayer, but we’re praying two different prayers and possibly to two different versions of who we think Jesus is. How do we reconcile THAT? I’m immediately brought back to a time when my ancestors who were slaves would gather together on Sunday morning and sing their songs of praise, and read scripture aloud and pray to Jesus. Right across the field in their big homes, their slave owners gathered together to sing the same songs, read the same scripture and pray to their own version of Jesus as well. Well which one is it? How do we reconcile THAT?

So this past Tuesday, some of us were celebrating a victory in Jesus and others, devastated and turning towards Jesus to give them strength in the midst of evil. And I’m stuck, trying to figure out if I should go to church, because I just don’t know whose hand I’m holding or which Jesus is being preached. I know and believe in the Jesus of the gospel. I believe in the Jesus who chose the most outcast of society to be in his inner circle. I believe in the Jesus who touched the most disgusting, sick, broken bodies that no one else would touch, and healed them. The Jesus who spoke and empowered women, broke bread with his enemies, and defended the weak. I believe in the Jesus who defeated death. That Jesus is my leader. That Jesus is my Savior & my Redeemer and I just want the real Jesus to stand up. Will the real Jesus, please just stand up?

Then there’s Matthew 14:22-36, Mark 6:45-56, John 6:16-24. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. Maybe that’s it. Maybe, like Peter, Jesus wants for us to stand up and walk over these uncertain waters. Stand up and walk in hope and in faith that the real Jesus will be there to meet us on the other side.

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