He looks just like Jesus!

Wilsons_2013 Posted by Rory Wilson on Wed, 23 Jun 2010 | 2 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

Although we have high hopes for our son Gideon, comparisons with the incarnate Son of God had not been our initial starting point.

When out for a walk after work last week however, some children ran over and wanted to see him for themselves (a rather common occurrence as white babies are an extreme rarity here.) ‘He does look just like Jesus’ we heard one of them say. I was rather surprised at the statement, then amused, puzzled, and appalled. What an unusual thing to say, but in what way does our Gideon look like Jesus…no beard, no cloak, no staff…blue eyes I guess, but….then I worked it out – the baby Jesus these children have seen in pictures is white and has the facial characteristics known by the white person who drew it. Indeed our son does bear a fantastic resemblance to such pictures compared to any Ugandan child these youngsters know.

The humour such a happening raised, quickly evaporated on the reflection upon what that means for the cultural translocation done in the name of spreading the Gospel by our forebears. That Jesus probably looked more Jewish than the average Anglo-Saxon probably hadn’t entered the consciousness of the early CMS pioneers who brought the Good News of Jesus along with trappings of their cultural consciousness to Uganda.

It is wonderful that this Gospel is not stuck in only one culture. While it can be helpful to understand something of Jewish culture to fully appreciate the Bible and God’s revelation contained there, we don’t need to become circumcised and learn to read and write Hebrew. Christianity is for every person on this planet, in every culture, in ways that make sense to how they understand the world.

Our God is beyond our understanding, so our cultural position will influence the limited aspects of God and His character that we find easier to appreciate, or perhaps miss completely. Fresh insights from different people and different cultures can help us appreciate aspects of Him we have not understood so well hitherto. Unfortunately the early missionaries hadn’t noticed this, so 100 years later many churches are still engaged in culturally confusing practices – for example thinking Jesus looks like he was born in Surrey or singing and preaching metaphors drawn from Autumn or spring (while with Uganda being on the equator both are completely unknown.)

I certainly am not writing to criticise those who sacrificed much (many their very lives) in their zeal for the Gospel and for the people of Uganda. The very history books in Uganda note with gratitude the huge impact they have had upon the development of this nation. On my part I want to try and avoid participating in mistakes that will lead to fresh problems in years to come. I also want to learn as much from how the different tribes in Uganda understand our God for how I should relate to Him.

Thankfully in our multicultural world you don’t have to come to Uganda to do the same, but if you are passing through, do call in for a cup of tea with your Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh for our handsome son.

Love Rory, Denise + Gideon.


Gillian Maganda said Mon, 28 Jun 2010 09:04AM
He may not look like Jesus, but he sure is gorgeous!
raul said Wed, 15 Sep 2010 07:46AM
Kale... We'll accept this invitation. Christmas 2011 we'll be there for a ugandan chai. :-)

Add your own comment