In, “Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University, David Gushee said that “White evangelical Christianity has produced four flawed versions of Jesus.”He noted that “Which version is presented in various churches depends a lot on who the preacher is and how local traditions develop, and undoubtedly sometimes multiple versions of Jesus are presented in one church” (Gushee, 2020,para.12). In this piece, I wish to focus on the authentic, New Testament Jesus. The rationale is that if people of faith are more familiar with the real, it will be harder for some to deceive them. In fact, Grenada and the Caribbean theological landscapes deserve an authentic exposition of Jesus, who some theologians will describe as Jesus according to Jesus.
In the area of ethics, Jesus’ position had and always continues to be love. Love is the highest statement of moral obligation. Jesus articulates this love in three spheres; love for God, love for neighbour and love for self. The love towards neighbour meant all people of all race, class and creed. The ethics of Jesus refused to be exclusive. Rather even the rejects of His day (John 4:4–26) and those that some Christian societies reject today, (Muslims, Blacks, LGBTQIA), were included in this love. In short, Jesus welcomed sinners. Jesus’ ethics led Him to teach that God welcomes all sinners. Of course, this drew condemnation and criticism from both those close to and those in communities that heard about him.
In the area of justice, Jesus placed priority on the poor. His preaching, His parables and His practical acts of love always emphasis this reality. This poor was not just the spiritually poor (Matt 5:3–12). But also the materially (Mark 14:7, Luke 18:22) and the politically poor; those who were marginalized and not given the opportunity or voice to play a positive impact in the transformation of society.
In the area of gospel and culture, Jesus understood the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world (Mark 16:15, Matt 28:19-20); a concept that the Lausanne Movement popularised. This gospel necessitates speaking truth to powers, existing at times, in explicit contrast and conflict with other worldviews.
Our faith groups need to show this Jesus; demonstrating a gospel that always includes love and justice for all.
Rev. Vonnie James, Grenada Baptist Association