This was written many years ago in response to a “happy clappy” mission in Dundee which enthused and invigorated me for a couple of evenings but then left me feeling quite empty for the rest of the week.
My Christ smelt. His one robe was stained by the dust of the road and the sweat of his body. He had a hooked nose and the dark, scorched complexion of one who spent his days under the savage Mediterranean sun and his nights under the cold impersonal stars. No amount of scraping with a knife’s point could dislodge the ingrained grime from his fingernails. His coarsely stubbled jaw held a row of rotting and broken teeth. Lice infested his sweat starched hair, but his eyes held a secret.
He had experience of all of life. He had grown up into a carpenter’s family with hands blistered from long hours at of work. He had known love, grief and sin; what it is to betray and to be betrayed. He had known despair and temptation and what it is to live without faith. But he had felt and he had thought and he had prayed. God showed him himself. Understanding himself he understood all people. He knew what he could do to help them. Self-assurance and compassion radiated from his face, and his eyes told a secret.
He loved the spirit of the religion into which he had been born but everywhere saw it stifled by the limited imagination of religious men. He lived the life of love and faith which had been obscured by a shroud of liturgy and legislation evolved to guide his ancestors but used to confine his friends. Sometimes this led him to pity, often it led him to anger, eventually it led him to Jerusalem. Always it led him closer to God. God’s love burned in his eyes.