What if Jesus turned up today and delivered his material in London instead of Jerusalem? What if he came and preached in Regent's Park, what would he say to us today?
This is one of the time-travelling extracts from my book 'Jumbled up in Jerusalem' (currently in progress). It wrestles with the question, why leave Jesus in a book on a pew when so many people outside churches are interested in him?
In this segment, after my own encounter with him back in the past, where he expresses frustration with being too popular, surrounded by crowds on every side, I invite him to come back with me ...
We reappear in central London, outside St Marylebone parish church. He immediately says, 'We're back at the Temple.' I tell him, 'This is a church, like a synagogue in your era.' He doesn't look happy, 'Stones don't matter.'
He sees the homeless man sleeping on the steps and blesses him, taking a coffee from the coffee stand and giving it to him.
He sees the bustle of city life and has a keen sense of how people are living - ignoring each other - and what's on their minds. 'This is no different to my time, and you say this is a "Christian" country?' He has an uncomfortable dislike for the word. A Muslim woman smiles at him as she passes, he embraces her warmly and says, 'Bless you,sister.'
'Come on', he says, 'let's go to the park.' In Regent's Park he looks at the joggers, people hurrying to work or texting on their smartphones, children on their way to school.
'Hey London', he says, standing on the path, 'if you're feeling bored with business, there's more to life. In the unkind city, love each other:
If you're worried about extremism and terrorism, peace will come if you stop feeding conflict (he must have read the Chilcot report).
If you're homeless, God has a place for you, and everyone else, there's more than enough property around here.
Feed the poor and don't sanction their benefits, there's no need to be mean, call yourself a "Christian" country ...'
'You have heard it said, "Thou shalt not kill" (and done a damned good job of ignoring it), I say - don't make death threats on social media, don't post revenge porn on WhatsApp. Play First Person Shooter videogames as much as you like but don't shoot politicians and police officers who are serving the public.'
'You have heard it said, "Don't let these Muslims come over here and Islamise our society." I say - don't be so bloody arrogant and hostile, society is for everyone and if you hate people you might as well kill each other!'
'You have heard it said, "Give people who voted #Brexit a hard time." I say to you - you still have to live with them, especially if they're family. Aren't you always banging on about liberal values and democracy, time to live up to them!'
'You have heard it said, "People with long beards and robes are extremists." I say - look at me! Then remind yourself that God loves them and listens to them when they pray.'
'Oh, and don't be a jerk about being religious. In fact, don't get hung up about being "religious" at all. Just be a decent loving human being, who loves God too. Make friends, work for peace and don't tell yourself that religion is about being against other people, their religions, worldviews or their God-given right to free speech.'
'You have heard it said, "Convert people, drag them along to church." Just don't! Live, people will get the message, if they want to, and God will see what's going on. Be cool, God's cool.'
'You have heard it said, "It's political correctness gone mad" - when cinemas won't include the "Lord's Prayer" in their adverts. It doesn't matter to me. Pray for good things and don't make a big deal of it.'
He had a lot more to say but he kept it to 500 words so it would fit in a blog.
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