It’s not something that we can easily encapsulate in a one-sentence description. In fact, there are complete libraries on the subject. It’s an ambiguous subject, and one could spend their entire life trying to understand it — what a fantastic idea!
In a world wrought with hatred, indifference, intolerance, and so many horrible things, there stands Love, like a beacon of hope.
Occasionally I question why we don’t choose Love in every instance, in every circumstance of life. Maybe it’s just easier sometimes to choose something counter-Love. Perhaps getting angry and vocal is the path of least resistance. That’s something I have to check myself on often.
I’ve discovered that until recently, I had never fully given myself to Love. Granted, I’m still learning about Love and all its facets, but choosing to seek Love out has opened my eyes to a whole new dimension I never knew existed!
Loving Jesus wasn’t ever something I found difficult to do; that is until I uncovered just how deep that rabbit hole went.
I was content loving baby Jesus. I was content loving savior Jesus. Keeping “Christ in Christmas” was easy; keeping him on the cross was too.
Choosing to fill in the blanks of his life and modeling my life after this other Jesus who showed up
wasn’t isn’t easy.
This other Jesus, who I call “the forgotten Jesus,” presented himself to me, and it’s when things got real.
Questions began racing through my mind:
“Wait, you didn’t mean to love everyone, did you? What about Muslims? They’re going to sneak into my house and slit throats — that is if our own government doesn’t do it first! This is why I need my guns! What about LGBT people? I can’t love and accept such willful disobedience! What about…”
You get the point.
Learning about the forgotten Jesus — the Prince of Peace, the great Lover, the guy not operating with fear tactics, the Heretical Lover — forced me to question my beliefs, my understanding, and my position on Christianity.
I was happy toting my gun, voting Republican, helping my wife to be submissive to me, and telling the world just how much I loved Jesus, while regurgitating scriptures to “help you” in your walk. That’s not difficult, and in fact it’s really the norm in the Bible Belt.
Most of you who’ve spent the time getting to know me over the last couple of years probably didn’t know that side of me — luckily. You may think I’m making this up, but I’m not. That was me. I was in my comfort zone…
But then, Love.
When I began to question everything — the Bible, God, Jesus, atheism, agnosticism, the American way, intolerance, etc. — and removed myself from the church system, I was suddenly face-to-face with the forgotten Jesus.
It was Jesus as I’ve never seen him before. If you understand what I’m saying, you’ve likely met him too. I’m still not able to adequately describe him or really put him into words, but I’ll try.
I’m not referring to the facet of baby Jesus, nor the one bearing a cross. I’m not even really talking about the facet of the one healing the sick, walking on water, or raising others from the dead. I’m certainly not referring to the warrior Jesus who’s supposed to come riding on a white horse and separate heads from shoulders.
Then who is this Jesus I’m talking about?!
I’m talking about the Jesus on the narrow path. The one who can walk a camel through the eye of a needle. The Jesus, who when robbed, will chase down the thief and give him his coat also.
The Jesus who introduced a new idea of who God is — an idea of God that hadn’t been expressed in scripture as Jesus was now presenting (his description of God is actually more counter-scriptural).
This is the Jesus who wasn’t blowing smoke about loving others sacrificially.
This Jesus would diffuse an execution of a prostitute because he had a genuine love and respect for life. This is the Jesus who understood that if others could grasp this message, it would literally change the world.
His isn’t a message of “my version of religion and name for God is the right one.” His message is obscure, but only because it’s been wrongfully smeared by bad Christian rhetoric and dogma.
This Jesus put a price on Love. True love will lay down one’s life for another — Muslim, gay, black, homeless, rich, democrat, republican, prostitutes, poor — all of these are inconsequential.
His focus wasn’t on conversions from hell bound to heaven bound. Jesus wasn’t a sin-focused or sin-driven person. He wasn’t driven by an afterlife, and he didn’t instill fear into the hearts of his followers to insure they remained faithful.
He was a love-focused, love-driven person whose intent was to show others how to do this life right.
If we don’t learn about this Jesus and begin to learn how to live like he did, then the status quo will remain the same.
Fear tactics will run their course, refusal to acknowledge all life as sacred will continue, and wars will be fought in the name of God — who, by the way, I don’t believe would ever justify blatant disregard for any living thing — at least not the forgotten Jesus’ version of God.
This Jesus didn’t give an assignment to save others from a damning afterlife. He gave the commandment to love others in this life.
He isn’t reactive, but with love, is proactive.
Finding this Jesus isn’t easy — following him is even more difficult. It’s not a popular place to be. I’ve found it to be cold and lonely here, but others are beginning to find their way here, and we’ve found community together.
In this community of Jesus followers you’ll find open hearts and minds. You’ll find people willing to love you exactly as you are, regardless of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, or creed. You’ll find others who know the price of love, and will unashamedly love you as their Jesus would.
You’ll be in a community willing to lay down arms in hopes that life will be treasured, not squandered. This is a community that will choose to give their own lives when necessary, just as the forgotten Jesus did in order to magnify Love — not magnify gun rights, death, war, intolerance, and being “right.”
To those of you who are with me in this community: Be encouraged! You’re not alone, and you’re doing wonderful things! You’re loving others well, and lives are being changed because of it. Be bold by allowing others to see the real, forgotten Jesus. That’s who they desire — they need to be loved as he would love them, especially if they’ve been mistreated or share a different religious belief than yours (or none at all).
To the one with the heavy burden, the mistreated, the outcast: I’m sorry. I’m sorry if who you are has caused others to treat you with anything other than love. I’m sorry if your race, skin color, or religion has caused others to treat you like a terrorist or belittle you in any way. I’m sorry if your sexual orientation has encouraged others to tell you that God’s love and full acceptance of you isn’t yours; it is. I’m sorry if you’ve been told that being “unequally yoked” — be it with a person of another race, sex, or religion — is wrong. Really, what it boils down to is this: I’m sorry if you’ve been told that love is conditional in any way. God’s love isn’t conditional. His complete and total acceptance of you and love for you is yours — exactly as you are! You are his creation, and it isn’t the place of any other person to judge his creation. Be yourself, be awesome. Allow God to love you, and reflect his Love to others. They need that Love too.
To my atheist and agnostic friends: I love you. I accept you as you are. You probably roll your eyes at much of what I say, but I don’t care. A lot of what you say or post is hilarious to me! I’m sorry if you’ve been mistreated by Christians or anyone else (including me!). It’s not my place to tell you that you’re going to hell (as if you could, right? 😉 ). You’ve been shown a poor representation of the forgotten Jesus I represent. I have an unconditional desire to get to know you more. Heck, I’m one of you! I’ve admitted that I’m an agnostic who has chosen to believe. My promise to you is that I will honor you, respect you, and always treat you with kindness. I am genuinely excited to build a friendship with you!
To everyone: You want to know what our differences are? Insignificant! Our differences don’t change the character of Love. We warp Love’s character by interjecting our opinions, differences, and difference of beliefs. That’s how gun rights, war, terrorism, hatred, and intolerance are justified. Seeing a person as their race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, gender, or any other “difference” is an injustice to that individual or group. When we instead choose to see another person as a person by honoring, loving, and respecting them, LOVE WINS. That’s the character of the forgotten Jesus I’m talking about.