originally published on my 'Mal's Murmurings' blog in September 2005
Jesus transformed my life but, perhaps, in turn I changed his. His
story has been transmitted to us via faith communities and, to
some extent, each believer adapts this person to their own needs.
The power of symbols is simply amazing. One time, I entered into
a personal relationship with Jesus and, my God, was it hard. It’s
strange how he expected me to take on the comfortable lower
middle-class lifestyle of my peers in the faith. Some of them knew
no better, they’d grown up with him as had I but, they’d never seen
the need to rebel.
Rebellion, now there’s a pain, one may even have to start asking
and, even worse, answering questions! Me and Jesus got along fine
for quite some time, we shared all these intimate conversations but,
no … he wasn’t prepared to back me whatever I chose to do; the
pastor knew best on that score. God, how I loved Jesus social
conscience and his love of the company of outsiders to the faith but,
according to the pastor, it was only because he was divine that he
couldn’t be tainted. It seems that somehow we poor fallen
creatures couldn’t take that risk so, we had to set ourselves apart.
It wasn’t long before we parted company, at least the church and
me; I don’t think the Jesus symbol ever let me go! My journey took
me a long way round after that, via Eastern religions, Trotskyist
politics, and experimentation with various substances, asking
uneasy questions and collapsing along the way.
All this time I remained under the spell of this divine symbol Jesus;
in him I found a voice and image of inclusivity, his demands may be
hard but ultimately that became part of the attraction. If no
demands were made how could one possibly grow? This time, the
demands weren’t to do with opposition to my working class status
but, more to do with caring about the people it was necessary to
On my return to the fold, even in a transitional state of charismatic
fervour, I was far less inclined to “preach at” non-believers; the
most important thing was that they should realize that I was there
for them. For some time, strangers would turn up at my doorstep
or, I would be granted an insight into someone’s need to be
It took so long for the realization to grow that, the most important
thing was quite simply to be there. Although full of doubts and
questions, regarding the Christian faith, the symbols of the faith
have well and truly grasped me. I am acceptable, tetchy humanthat I may be.