Our second reflection by a member of GUC on who is Jesus is offered by Margaret Reeson.
It was winter. The house was quiet. My landlady and her family had all gone out for Sunday afternoon, leaving me free to take my homework and sit by the glowing coal fire instead of in my arctic bedroom. I was a young teacher working in a small two-teacher school in a village west of the Blue Mountains.
My homework on that and other weekends was to study for an examination for potential lay preachers. One of the subjects was ‘The person and work of Christ’. This asked the question: ‘Who do you say Jesus is? What did he do?’ And, importantly, does that matter?
The more I thought about this, and the more I read on those quiet weekends, the more I realised that this was not just an academic question. It would be simple enough to write an acceptable ‘correct’ answer in an exam about Jesus. But who did I really think he was?
That year teaching in the country had taken me away from everything familiar. Until that year I had always lived at home with a loving and supportive Christian family. I had been part of a strong home congregation in Sydney. Most of my close friends, through teaching, sporting teams and social life, were also Christians. It was just the way things were. That was what we all believed and understood.
But now, in this different place, all of this was challenged. Few local people in that rural community bothered with church attendance. Attitudes, behaviour, even their choice of language – none of it was familiar or comfortable for me. Christian faith was dismissed as pointless and a bit silly for a grownup. I had to ask myself, ‘Do you believe in Jesus just because your parents do? Do you really believe that he is the Son of God, Saviour of the world? Is your Christian faith just based on habit, culture and being part of a community of believers?’
I had to decide, because it was going to make a difference to how I would live the rest of my life. Was Jesus Christ a well-meaning good man who was mistaken about his special relationship with God? Was he crazy, imagining himself as god-like? Was he a deceitful conman, tricking his followers into dangerous situations? Or was he indeed the One sent by God to rescue, and forgive, and transform, and guide, and give us hope?
The more I read of Jesus in my Bible, the stronger was my sense that this was no trick, no deluded false prophet. This was the One, who befriended the outsider, talked about deep things with women, embraced children, spoke against injustice. He turned the lives of troubled people the right way up and offered forgiveness to those in despair. He confronted the self-righteous and complacent. This was ‘God-with-us’. This was the One I chose to follow.
That was then, many years ago. Over and over again in the years since then I have seen the living Jesus at work, transforming individuals and communities. I still follow him.