Yesterday one of my co-workers told me something. He said he no longer believed in Jesus. My natural reaction was, “Jesus? Like, you don’t believe he existed?” My friend went on to say that he no longer believed in God, Jesus, the Trinity, or anything like that anymore. Whether Jesus, the charismatic neighborhood rabbi from the 1st Century Palestinian “block” existed or not was of no consequence to him. He no longer believed in Christ, the God-Man, or as I like to call him…
His reasoning was, as is usually the case, the amount of suffering in his own life and the world around him. He said he’s not worried about blaming it on a god anymore. He doesn’t believe in it anymore. He’s just going to “live life” he said. And I don’t blame him.
Now, I am not saying I share his dim outlook, but I understand the exhaustion that comes with trying to make excuses for a deity (or a set of beliefs about a deity) that seems distant, oblivious, unable, or unwilling to give a damn about the rest of us down here. “He’s God. He doesn’t need defending,” some say (ironically in a defensive tone). But basically it just comes off as “God is good even if all evidence points to him being a jerk.”
Let’s not let him off the hook this time. After all, “Magic Jesus” should be able to show up and do something. Let’s call it like it is. He’s not doing a good enough job.
Christians and atheists alike are tired of Magic Jesus ruining their lives. Instead of the human Jesus being a symbol of what we can all strive to achieve, his influence has been usurped by a narcissistic and easily offended long-haired Swedish Superman knockoff, only interested in weekly self-help seminars with a cover charge.
Depending on your preferred model, Magic Jesus may even tell you who to vote for, which news outlets are biased, and who isn’t allowed to get married. How does he know all of this? Because he’s magic.
I am going to suggest something radical. Believing in a certain type of Jesus has absolutely nothing to do with being a good person. It also has no bearing on who Jesus actually is/was. If I think he’s magic, that doesn’t make him any more or less divine. It is simply an expression of my current state of mind. That state of mind does not reflect how “on track” or “off track” our spiritual health may be at any given moment.
If you think my friend is “struggling” spiritually because he no longer believes in (magic) Jesus, then you may be missing the larger point. People have been “Jesus’d”. People have tried for years, since childhood, to come to know, understand, and love Jesus. Some end up wide-eyed in a church camp crying out to God while others run screaming out the door because they can’t pretend any longer. Neither of these two extremes or anyone in-between is any “better” or “worse”; they have run the gauntlet of the Jesus experience, and here they stand, sometimes with the living crap knocked out of them.
Would you stand over them with your finger pointing down, conjuring the spells of your warlock?
I challenge you to consider that life is more than what we believe. Whether there are gods watching over us or not, we must look out for each other. If there are indeed gods, let them ponder our great love, more powerful than any magician.
Brett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Cleveland, Tennessee, the second largest Cleveland in the United States. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.