Monday, June 16, 2008

The Visitation

I was suprised to discover that Frank Peretti's The Visitation has much the same theme as John White's The Dark Lord's Demise. What does it mean to be a Christian? What does following Jesus look like? Is it enough to believe, say and do the right things or is there something more? The first third of the book seems to mock the Christian culture, which made me wonder about my own relationship with God. Is it real or superficial?

When a young man with flowing, long hair, parted neatly in the centre comes to town and starts healing people and miraculously producing loaves of bread, people are certain that he is Jesus returned. Out-of-towners move in with their mobile homes and trailers, hoping to be healed and to bask in the presence of his goodness. Who is this man? Why is he claiming to be the Messiah? And if he's not Jesus, how did the spike-driven scars on his wrists get there?

"When Jesus came to the earth the first time...he went about doing good. Well, why not now? And I'm not just talking about myself. I'm talking about all of us. You may define me any way you wish. Maybe I'm Jesus. Maybe I'm the reincarnation of Jesus. Maybe I'm only a channel of his power. It doesn't matter. However I become Jesus for you, you have to be Jesus to others and the time to start is right now."

Could this be true? Would you be brave enough to declare in a letter to the editor that this kind and gentle miracle-worker is of the devil? How would you respond to what the newspaper editor wrote:

"I saw a kindly doer of good who allowed everyone the dignity of their own convictions. He touched and healed but did not judge, he blessed and did not condemn. He dared to speak of the good in all of us and inspired us to do some good in this world. He was there for the people and not the other way around."

Is this the essence of Christianity? If not, what is? Is Christianity strident, strict, inflexible, legalistic and pharisaical? Is there:

"...a long list of complex, tangled, sometimes contradictory, often hypocritical, but absolutely essential requirements and taboos defining what it [means] to be a Christian"?

Or is

the real Jesus...greater than the best show any man can put on? ...greater than any building you could put him in or any tradition you could wrap around him or any expectations you could impose on him?

How do we know? How do we find out who the real Jesus is?


Di said...

Oooooo, I want to read this book!!!

Thursday's Child said...

Sounds good. I have some of his books at home and I wish I'd brought them back last summer to reread. Oh, well, next year!