“What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?”
“One of Us”- Joan Osbourne
So the four lines at the top of the blog are from a song called “One of Us” written by Eric Bazilian and released by an unknown singer named Joan Osbourne in 1995. I wrestled with the song for a whole, nearly sleepless night a few days ago, because it really is something that Christians take for granted. Yet, so much of the world struggles with this ideal of God being relatable to them, and whether or not they can have a personal relationship with God.
Personally, I heard the song because it was covered by Glee in an October 2010 episode. Now, stay with me here. While many of you may hate or be in support of Glee, what the show was known for was tackling the tough issues of society. In this episode, a Glee club member’s father has a heart attack, and the episode is about how the different members of the club try to help that character deal with the event based on their religious beliefs. Ryan Murphy (Glee creator) hoped to create a balanced view of religion that ensured that there was an equality between pro and anti-religious ideas presented. The episode received critical acclaim by achieving that. This song was the end of the episode.
Personally, I haven’t had many times that I pondered the question, “What if God was one of us?” I grew up in a Christian home and learned about God from an early age. I was blessed to have great parents who helped me mature in my faith. The Bible clearly explains that Jesus Christ came down to the earth and lived in the same world with the same temptations, successes, failures etc. that we have to go through. Yet, lately, I’ve been trying to understand how people who do not believe in God view him. I feel like this view is one that Christians often overlook. In order to reach those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ, we have to be able to connect with them where they are. Whether unbeliever or believer, I believe that this question of whether God was one of us is something really important when it comes to the faith known as Christianity. This song really gets down to the mark.
“What if God was… just a slob like one of us”. It truly recreates the deep yearning of the human condition that we all feel for a savior. The brokenness and emptiness of this world truly breaks my heart. No matter how much society and the world tries to bury it, people know deep inside that there is something more to this world than what is on the surface. Yet, to these people, God is a larger than legend myth legend. The mosaic that the human population have created of God is absolutely brilliant, but it makes Him seem inaccessible to the population. How many times in history have people sat crying in the alley, park, bedroom, back of the bus etc. and wondered if God hears them? How many times do these people just wish that God walked the earth and would walk up to them and solve all their problems? Is that you?
Now, for those who came from the same background that I have, here’s the question. Can you imagine being in this position? Left in a place where you are not sure if God can relate to you? Here’s the kicker… we all have. Whether Christian or non-Christian we have all at some point seen God as that huge holy figure that we can’t relate to. We all imagine, “What if God was… just a stranger on a bus”. Even though we’ve heard the stories, we still oftentimes wonder… was Jesus really like all of us?
Our culture attempts to answer this question with different pieces of literature and entertainment. One T.V. series that I watch is Supernatural, and the basic premise of the show is that there are two brothers (Sam and Dean Winchester) who understand the “supernatural” of the world. They interact with (and often kill) the things that human culture have put in this “supernatural” box. Ghosts, Vampires, Wendigos, Djinns, Demons and Angels. In later seasons (Season 11 starts soon, so excited!) they heavily deal with Demons and Angels. In this world, God has been “missing” for longer than almost anyone can remember. While many characters voice their beliefs about God (some believe him dead, uncaring, a simple story etc.) the most striking one is from an angel named Castiel.
Castiel is the main protagonist aside from the Winchester brothers (and my favorite character!). In earlier seasons Castiel is seen struggling with this idea of who God is and what he means to Castiel. He often calls out to God, begging him to return to the world and fix it. However, Castiel’s faith begins to disappear as God continues to “not show up” despite horrible tragedies rocking the world. He doesn’t understand why God isn’t, “Trying to make his way home.” Questions run through his mind constantly. Are the stories that Castiel heard really true? Did God just make this creation just to leave it in the dust? What if God is just another really powerful angel who decided to dump the world and go relax somewhere else in the universe? These are the powerful questions that Castiel ponders, yet, are a reflection on how many people who do not have a faith in Jesus Christ think about God and Christianity. Castiel is stuck between fully embracing free will, and believing that God will come back and control the heavenly realm. This depiction of Castiel fully describes so many people in the world. It is one of the underappreciated storylines in the Supernatural saga, but one that I very much appreciate for its honest portrayal of the human condition.
The beautiful thing is that God truly was one of us. He lived with people, ate with sinners, healed people, and died as a common criminal. He felt all the same feelings that we do. The surrounding environment is obviously different because as pictures clearly show us Jesus was the only white man in an early A.D. Jerusalem (catch the humor?), and we live in the 2000s. For real though, he had the same human experience that we do, and can relate to us through our troubles. Honestly, even as a long-time Christian, it is still hard to grasp how the Almighty God understands the way I feel. It’s absolutely breathtaking, but impossible to fully grasp.
There is so much heartbreak in the world, and so many people that need to hear about God. Not the religion called Christianity. They need to hear about the God that can fill that large hole in their heart. They need to hear about the Father that is always there and listening to their every single word. They need to hear about the Jesus Christ who walked this earth, and can relate to their struggles. This is the true goal of those who call themselves Christians. Not to build churches. Not to isolate themselves from the world. Not to go to church once a week and to forget about it. This is the real purpose of Christianity. To bring people closer to the living God who is the only thing that can fill that void in the hearts of billions of people who cry out for help in this world.
P.S. Can’t believe I’m already over 1/4 through my last semester of college! Life is really busy but I’m able to hang out with old friends, make new ones, and also still finish my schoolwork in between. Life is awesome!