WILL THE REAL JESUS PLEASE STAND UP?
There was an old game show called “To Tell The Truth”. Contestants would hear a story about a person and then meet panelists who each claimed to be that person. The contestants could ask questions and then take guesses at which one was telling the truth.
Finally, the host would say, “Would the real ______ please stand up.” Variations on this game form the basis for lots of fun fibbing games. But it makes me think of Jesus and his questions in Luke 9:18-20. “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”
Like Santas at department stores and Elvis’s in Vegas, there are a lot of Jesuses out there. Of course most of them are imposters. Sometimes it’s obvious. Other times they look quite convincing.
We’ve all seen the pasty white wimpy Jesus of bad church art. Now there’s patriot Jesus and social justice Jesus. Hippie Jesus and bad ass Jesus are popular too. The Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith have even been separated in academic circles. How do you know which is the real Jesus?
Absolute Relative Reality
Many people think it doesn’t matter. Everything is relative. Your Jesus works for you and mine works for me. Your truth is your truth. I know my truth.
Others are more committed to the idea of absolute truth. They want to prove why their Jesus is the right one. Of course they are always right. Certainly. Everyone who sees things differently is obviously deceived.
Both of these approaches fail miserably. There is absolute truth. Call it reality. It is what it is. Jesus is who he is. He did what he did. Whether he did it two thousand years ago or twenty minutes ago, there is a real Jesus who does and says real things.
But every one of us hears, reads or experiences them differently. We can only see through our own eyes, and none of us have a perfect view. Each of us Interprets events, actions and words through the filter of what we already believe, how we understand language, and what we expect.
It’s a good thing.
This is only a problem in isolation. Together, we can learn from each other. We can see from angles we never thought of. A more well rounded picture can develop. This is why we read in community, discuss sermons and share our perspectives in a small group.
Where two or more are gathered, Jesus can be seen more clearly in our midst. Especially when we gather with those who see differently than us. Our differences can make us all better.
Or we can retreat to our corners and talk to those who already think like us about how right we are and how wrong everyone else is.