I love Star Trek, the first three series, when it really was Star Trek, boldly going where no man had been before, wearing sweatshirts a bit too tight, and cut off trousers a bit too short to sit comfortably over the ridiculous boots…. on a spaceship with doors that swished (a stage hand opening and closing them, the noise added afterwards)… with loyal Spock and egocentric Kirk, and Uhuru in a bottom skimming costume, and boring humourless Dr McCoy…. that Star Trek. The real one. If you want to get inside the mind of an entrepreneur and creative, read the biography of Gene Roddenberry, the genius behind those original episodes – what a case! He was desperate to produce something other than the ghastly 1960’s staple TV diet of cowboys and injuns, so to get the thing made he told the studio that it would be ‘Cowboys and injuns in space.’ and the rest is history. During the course of the three series he went bust, the production went bust, it was cancelled, restarted, and he cobbled together a failed episode with a new episode to make the budget work. He was my kinda guy. I feel like I know his personality. I think I wouldn’t have liked spending a lot of time with him but I would have absolutely loved him for who he was and the drive he had, for the story telling and the sheer face of it. I feel like I know him. If he was in this room now, we would have so much in common, so much to talk about… actors, directors (!), producers, money-men…. and then we would begin to look sideways at each other… who’s using who here?
But do I really know his personality? Or am I just fooling myself?
I’m becoming more and more fascinated by the idea that I could become familiar with the personality of Jesus Christ. Not the character of Jesus, of God, because we learn about that all the time, about how ‘other’ He is, how powerful and righteous and compassionate and omniscient and omnipresent and we can never ever hope to know and understand that fully… no, I’m talking about the personality of God-made-man, Jesus, when He walked on this earth. What was He like? Seriously, no, listen, I mean… what was He like? Can we know now, after 2,000 years? From a book much translated, and a culture so foreign? From four essays, the Gospels. How can we know?
I hope that if I had known Him, met Him, I would have followed Him and believed in Him, but would I have loved Him or just loved the idea of Him? If He was here now, would I be tumbling over myself to talk to Him, or mute and paralysed?
And as I’ve thought about this, and trawled the red letter words of the New Testament, well, call me certifiably insane if you must, but I think I’m really really getting to know Him! He was visibly upset by the grief of His friends when Lazarus was dead, He felt affection for the brash and rich young ruler, He refused to judge the adulterous woman, He wasn’t put off by kids, He spoke to the Samaritan woman (is it too much of a stretch too say He even chatted with her?), He lost it with the money changers in the temple, He was often a bit frustrated by the disciples too, “Couldn’t you watch with me for even an hour?’ ‘Oh, you of little faith!’ “Are you so dull?” and so on… and He healed the woman with menstrual bleeding who was outcast and unclean in the eyes of the religious people… talking of which, he reached out and touched the leper… He looked at Jerusalem, at the city where few knew Him and where He would die, and He wept. MAN! He was just a complicated rounded fabulous human being. And God. He told His Mum that it wasn’t time for Him to start His work yet, (the wedding at Cana) but she knew Him well enough to say to the waiters ‘Just do what He says’ and of course, He did what she wanted Him to do. So, that tells me He had a soft centre, He wasn’t rigid, or cold, or clinical. He was HUMAN. Totally completely wonderfully human, and God.
And as the man, Jesus went boldly where no man had ever gone before. He was the pioneer, the flag bearer of so much that we now see as good, and which – until His birth – was unknown. He was the first to say ‘Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Blessed are the meek. Turn the other cheek.’
As I think about His personality, I’m dazzled by the originality of the man, Jesus. If I had walked with Him would I have listened and tried to understand? Or would I have looked to the customs of the day, the well worn paths of precedence, and decided He was mad? Would I have yanked on His sleeve and said ‘Where are you getting these bonkers ideas from?’
Now we all know the words ‘Love your enemies’. Now we all look for peace and for love. It’s easy to miss how revolutionary these words were. In the culture Jesus was born into there was no love for the enemy, peace was hard won and kept by military might only. He really did boldly go where no man had been before. What an original thinker. The more you read His words, the more you love Him.