“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get in touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God–that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying–the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on–the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life–what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.”
–C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
For a long time now, I’ve had “a Jesus problem.” During college, when people would bring up religion in the smoky back room of a coffee house, inquire as to whether I had any, I’d say, “Well, I believe in God, but I have a Jesus problem.” I recycled it later, even after having read more or thought about it more or discussed it more in less arty, less annoying conversations.
I’ve asked Catholic friends to explain it to me. “I don’t get Jesus,” I’ve said. “And I really don’t get the trinity thing. How is God three things? How is God one thing? Isn’t God all things?”
Once, someone told me the trinity was a mystery. The mystery. And you know, I do like the mystery of God–it’s comforting to know it’s OK that I don’t understand things. But Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or the Trinity, aren’t really sold as the mystery. They’re sold as the answer.
My Jesus problem remains. Because the way I see it, if Jesus was God, then so am I, and so are you, and so is the laptop I’m typing this on, and so is my living room, and so is the sky outside my balcony door.
Was Jesus a prophet? I don’t know. Was Jesus a great leader? It seems so, doesn’t it? Was Jesus just really clued in on a way people could get along peacefully? Probably more than anything else.
The veneration of Jesus, as the man who exemplified such a radically different way of living, makes sense to me. I can get behind Jesus as a conduit. I would say Jesus’ teachings are my conduit to God, to living a life of if not always greater purpose at least of kindness, consideration, generosity. Jesus absolutely taught us how to live well, individually and together.
But when I pray to God, do I pray to Jesus? No. Never.
But maybe, as C.S. Lewis wrote, I pray with him, and he prays for me. Maybe he is in the room as I’m in the room because we’re both God–of God and for God and with God.