This was not really planned, but given the only person who I know actually regularly reads this blog made a specific request, I am happily having another go at this (thanks R.!)
This time last week, and as a result of more general reflection on what it means for me to be a "follower of Jesus", I tried to show and agree that following him was not an end to itself but a life journey with a goal in mind. That spiritual goal I believe gave me energy in my own quest to not miss out on being spiritually adopted, one of the greatest challenges of my twenties. Vague trinitarianism I now know does not facilitate this task.
This week has seen an interesting shift for me though: I resumed praying to Jesus again.
Perhaps this was in part due to my declaration last week to follow him. I have been going through a period of focusing on Father prayers for quite a long time, as Jesus taught, but it has not always been easy to feel the closeness I would expect from being restored to the perfectly loving father, even while fully acknowledging the incredible cost. It would be easy to argue that this is simply because I was excluding the divine Son and Spirit from the equation, but I suspect it has much more to do with the way I was brought up and have lived out my church life and doctrine.
The other reason I am back on the Jesus prayer wagon, I think, is to have rediscovered a couple of Revelation references that speak of Jesus loving us, loving me. Why is that so extraordinary? That is one of the first things Christian parents love to teach our children, that we share with people. But I had been quite surprised to discover that all (or so I had thought) of New Testament epistle (and I think also Acts) references to Jesus loving us were all past tense, drawing our attention to the cross, where Moltmann encourages us to begin our theology, and for me to begin mine.
But here is Revelation chapter 1, verses 4-6, the first of these references I found this week, and I would encourage all to focus on it for a minute for it is one of very few places where the Bible really does "tell me so":
Obviously, or so it seems to me, this is quite a trinitarian-unfriendly passage (I had not even noticed this at first!), but I am not looking at that here. It's Monday!
To him who loves us.
This “him” is unavoidably Jesus, for it is his blood that has freed us (or washed us, depending on the ancient manuscript you prefer). It also is unavoidably present tense, as the next verb, "freed" or "washed", is past, providing an apparently intentional distinction.
Jesus loves me.
I love Jesus.
I also love God.
I will also need to think a bit more about the following Jesus, as we also have “fishers of men”, “carrying my own cross”, abandoning other legitimate preoccupations…. I am beginning to realise my Monday posts could have been subverted away from trinitarianism analysis to following Jesus. My friend R. is a very crafty friend indeed!