What Jesus looks like; what God is like.

October 30, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More

I somehow got onto a emailing list that sends me lots of information on God and heaven. The latest email included a provocative photograph of Jesus. He looks like a wealthy young man from Los Angeles, hanging out at the beach. These sorts of “photos” of Jesus were extremely popular when I was growing up. These sorts of images still appear in the Christian literature handed to me on the streets and at my front door.

photo-of-jesus

It makes me wonder, though, whether Jesus would be nearly as popular if he was represented as he might have looked in reality (if he existed at all):   He would have had much darker skin and hair; he’d likely be much shorter than most modern men; he would not have been so well groomed, his complexion wouldn’t be that of a pampered movie star, his clothing would not have been well-washed and he would not have spoken nor understood English.  If he visited our modern world, he would hang around prostitutes, criminals, other types of sinners, and the poor and down-and-out.  He would likely assume the role of “terrorist,” attempting to detonate the corporate temples of the big Wall Street money-changers/Mammon idolaters.  He would, if he visited us, encourage his followers to give up their suburban lifestyles, and to empty out their 401K’s and give all of that money to the poor, which would mean that they would be asked to hand their hard-earned retirement money to needy strangers.  If he visited us, he would also ask his followers to conjure up the images of the people (gays, atheists, Democrats, Iranians) that they most despise, and to affirmatively take real life steps to demonstrate that they love them.   If he visited in person, those who love the beach-boy Jesus, would become dismayed that Jesus is actually a prickly, even accusatory fellow (as he often was in the new testament stories), challenging people to dramatically change the way they lived their lives.   He would not be the kind of fellow most Christians would repeatedly invite to their cocktail parties:  “This is my best friend, Jesus, who will follow you around tonight insisting that you give away all your property to poor strangers and criminals.”

I know that many folks would say that they would follow Jesus no matter what he was like, but is that so?  How many American Christians have any friends who fluently speak only a language used in the Middle East, and whose skin is darker then their own? Who spend lots of time giving comfort to street people and criminals?  If the answer is “none,” then it is unlikely they would have paid any attention to Jesus.

The Christians who bond over images like the “Jesus” shown above need to at least have the courage to get the picture more accurate before deciding how much they love him.For more on what Jesus “looked like,” see this earlier post.

In that same email, I was sent a cartoon summing up that God loves me so incredibly much that he will send me to hell for eternal torture if I don’t love him back. Hell is usually described in such terms that it would clearly be unconstitutional. Of course, it’s always presented as “my choice.”   I’ve heard that such warped and sadistic people like this exist on Earth–love me on my terms or I will get violent.  I avoid those people like the plague–as all rational people should do.  This little cartoon vividly illustrates the principle that the “God” is “good” even though he allegedly loves us like an abusive parent would “love” us, at least for some Christians.  And BTW, it was the kind and gentle beach hippie Jesus of the New Testament who invented hell.

heaven-or-hell

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Category: Culture, photography, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    How much would a modern-day Jesus differ from any other cult leader of recent memory? Even the leaders of peaceful religious sects are treated with suspicion and ridicule by typical Christians. Many Christians love to cling to their religion's ancient status as the faith of the persecuted while also championing their faith as prevailing and ubiquitous. Christians maintain dual images of Jesus in much the same way- he is both a humble, human messenger peace and an all-powerful, judgmental god. Yet this seems to cause no psychological tension in most Christians.

  2. After Waco, my mother (still working then) had a conversation in the office about Koresh in which someone pointed out that Koresh was a nut.

    "Why do you think that?" she asked.

    "Well, he says he talks to god."

    "Isn't that what the pope claims he does?"

    To their credit, most of her coworkers got the implication—it's a cult until it succeeds. Then it's a religion.

  3. Mike M. says:

    I suspect that the majority of Christians hold truly Anti-Jesus beliefs:
    Jesus-Love your enemies.
    “Christians”-hate your enemies.
    Jesus-Blessed are the poor.
    “Christians”-Blessed are the rich.
    Jesus-‘The Kingdom of heaven is within you.’
    “Christians”-The Kingdom of Heaven is in the Kingdom of Heaven (in the sky, after you die).
    Jesus-‘Don’t you know that you are all gods?’
    “Christians”-You are all born sinful and utterly depraved.
    Jesus-Turn the other cheek.
    “Christians”-Kill the infidels. Kill early, kill often.
    Jesus-Fortunate are the peacemakers.
    “Christians”-Fortunate are the warmakers.
    Jesus-Do not judge.
    “Christians”-Judge
    Jesus-Do not condemn.
    “Christians”-Condemn.
    Jesus- Friend of drunkards, gluttons, tax collectors and outcasts.
    “Christians”-these “sinners” may burn in Hell.
    Jesus-‘Beware to those who load people down with the crushing burden of laws and regulations but do nothing to help them. You have taken away the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking the door, you have blocked the way for those trying to enter.’
    “Christians”-More laws, more regulations; bind them fast and let them suffer.

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