Reflections on the Complications of Jesus (i.e. the Second “Person” of the Divine)
by Olivia Pryor
These days, I am most likely to invoke the name of Jesus while in traffic (usually with some other fanciful language sprinkled in) but it wasn’t always like that.
Childhood: I was often afraid. Jesus was my comforter, a light, a defender when I was helpless and scared.
Adolescence: Jesus was my boyfriend. I felt intimately loved and known, at the same time, it was so easy to remain celibate and maintain a sense of righteous pride.
College (the short version): I rejected Jesus, I had mystical experiences with Jesus, I thought Jesus was a sham, I thought that Shane Claiborne might be Jesus, I believed Jesus condemned me to hell, I yelled at Jesus in parked cars, I knew that even though my mother and father rejected me, Jesus loved me.
Today: There are still a good many reasons to be unresolved about Jesus. For starters, I don’t know how to handle the idea of Jesus as a savior, a king, or a man.
I dislike the misperceived Whiteness of Jesus, how his image and name have been used to colonize, terrorize, and shame. I resent that Jesus, as the face of Christianity, is confused with materialism, capitalism, American intolerance and greed.
And even still: there is something compelling about the person of Christ.
Here are some things I like about Jesus: civil disobedience, metaphors, and his way of undoing all the things we think we know, his knack for making powerful people look stupid and outcasts the rock stars of his stories. I don’t know about you, but I can more easily trust a God who is weak, broken, misunderstood, and betrayed. I can relate to a God who thirsted, was hungry, was furious, and wept.
Most of all: I am compelled by Jesus as the physical, human embodiment of the Divine and the idea that in the person of Christ, mind and body, spirit and matter are unified. The incarnation of Christ teaches us that the Divine is not far, but resides right here in the material world. God is the blood pumping in our bodies, our sweat and body odor. God is tears of grief, dirt under the fingernails, really good sex, the mess and power of childbirth, a satisfying drink of water on a hot day. The person of Christ invites us to be embodied and to taste, touch, and see the Divine everywhere we go.
Thanks be to humanness of God.
Photography by Raquel Simoes.