Black Jesus

Black Jesus September 23, 2014


I love Black Jesus.

I don’t mean the Everlast song—though that is a good one. I mean the series from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim created by Aaron MacGruder of Boondocks fame.

Gerald “Slink” Johnson stars as a tall, warm-hearted Jesus living in South Central LA. His closest friends are former convicts, drug dealers and a bum who betrays him regularly. He even consistently shows love to Vic (played by Charlie Murphy) despite Vic’s attempts to expose Jesus as some sort of fraudulent cult leader.

I know many may find it sacrilegious to find Jesus growing weed in the community garden or helping steal manure from the local horse stable to fertilize said garden. But one of the things I’ve always loved about the Jesus of the Bible is his willingness to break protocol.

His friends run out of wine at their wedding, and his mom tells him to help. He tells her “Woman, it isn’t time yet!” But he changes the plan…just to help out a friend.

An adulterous woman is thrown at his feet. The law says she must be stoned. Jesus runs them by off saying nothing more than, “Whoever’s sinless here, you get us started. You throw the first one.

They leave, and he asks the woman where her accusers went.

“They left.”

“Well, I got nothing…go and sin no more.”

He doesn’t just show mercy. He dignifies her and serves up justice to the religious elite.

I haven’t thought much about Jesus lately. But I recall these things and I remember why I like him. I remember what I found so lovable about God through these stories.

I think it’s why I love Black Jesus.

Black Jesus is spreading love and kindness. Black Jesus meets people’s needs for friendship and community. Black Jesus doesn’t judge, but loves the smelliest bum in South Central. Black Jesus breaks away from the norm and does things we don’t think he should so that people can know that he’s there for them.

Damn, that’s awesome.

I told my spiritual director that I was having a crisis of faith. After spilling my heart to her, she said, “You’re not having a crisis of faith. People just ruined Jesus for you.”

I think that may be true. In the middle of my second guessing this whole faith thing and all that I ever thought I knew about God, I may have lost sight of who Jesus really was and is. If I look beyond the image of Jesus that has been portrayed by most of American Christianity, I start to see God. And God is pretty great.
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