5 things I like about Jesus

Since today is the birthday of Jesus I'm going to dedicate this blog to him.
I am not religious but was brought up in a luke warm protestant culture where I was given a light education about the man and his life. I had a grandmother who was a devoted baptist, and her example set the tone for what I thought Christianity was all about. Both the good and the guilt. My presence in the church choir also provided a lot of information, between the lyrics of the songs and the many masses I attended by being in the choir I got to know a lot about his life and what he taught. I also got confirmed, although I must confess that a big part of the reason why I did it, was the large present one could expect upon completion of bible studies. I don't know how it works in other countries or in the more secular branches of Christianity, but in Sweden to sell the concept of the miraculous Jesus to teenagers, he was made to seem cool. The language of Testament Old and New was translated to us by a youngish priest who wore jeans under the cloak, and he toned down the heaven and hell scenario and instead of invoking guilt in us, de-dramatized the big words, witheld the more threatening scary ones and with every Biblical story told, he drew comparisons to life scenarios that we could relate to. It worked pretty well. I still like and admire Jesus since that gentle introduction. I was never interested to join the fan club, but he seems to have been an amazing guy, so I thought to commemorate him today, on his birthday, by compiling a list of things that I like about him.

1. His famous last words, or rather one of the seven statements spoken during his last hours on the cross.
I am generally cautious about the accuracy of handed down stories claiming to be the truth, it has a bit too much of a 'chinese whispers' feel to me. But regardless of the veracity of those famous last words, I think the statement and what it indicates as a teaching, is pretty powerful. "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they are doing", are indeed noble and grandiose words to say when you're suffering immense pain and know you're going to die nailed to a wooden cross. It reveals a truly compassionate heart, to forgive those responsible for putting you there, and it shows a truly intelligent mind to understand that ignorance/fear is so volatile that it can kill.

2. He fought the establishment. He saw and felt something different than what those with power and influence thought fair, and had the courage to speak his mind even though it was forbidden, even punishable to do so. Showing that kind of civil courage and irreverence for the powers that be, when you perceive them as unfair or untruthful, is a highly admirable quality and one that we could use a bit more of today.

3. "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you", is a great teaching, then and today. Short, concise, and right on the mark.

4. The Beatitudes, for those of you who have forgotten or never heard of them:
In the ones retold by Luke, I can draw great parallels to the teachings of The Buddha:

-'Blessed are you who are poor/hungry/sad/misunderstood',
I am pretty sure that Jesus was not telling us that poverty and misery are more God like conditions. I think he was merely indicating that whatever difficulties you are going through, the possibility of readjusting your attitude to what is happening and find glimpses and states of happiness/blessing regardless of circumstance. And that the suffering of the moment is transitory, it will change. A parallell to the Buddhist doctrines of Emptiness and Impermanence.

-'Woe to you who are rich/well fed/conditionally happy solely because of circumstance/looked upon with blind admiration', points towards the suffering that lies behind the illusion of safety that attachment creates, another Buddhist core teaching.

Scholars from both Christianity and Buddhism have for a long time debated the similarities and differences between the two Teachings and Teachers, but to me it seems that whether you view God as a guy in the sky or as a state of being, the fact that there are two World teachers that drew similar conclusions of what brings you real happiness, is really good news

5. Perhaps the main reason, why I on this day in particular think of and like Jesus, is the impact his birthday still has.
Although it happened thousands of years ago, the birth of this man and the tales told about it, made a huge impression, and that impression has for centuries continued to steer the direction of our world. Some of the repercussions, like war and slavery to name a few, have been not so great. Abysmal even. But those were made under his banner years after his existence and I imagine that if he knew, he would sadly shake his head and very likely repeat that same statement, 'Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing'.
Because it seems he was a man with a big heart, and he is still today probably the only man in history whose birthday, inspires us to set our compass, during these few days in December, towards generosity in spirit and in heart.
That, is a great feat. One I think is worth celebrating.

Have a beautiful Christmas day!



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