A Prayer to Jesus From an Admiring Skeptic

05/02/2012 12:54 pm ET | Updated Jul 02, 2012
  • Allan Brawley Professor Emeritus of Social Work, Arizona State University

Dear Jesus,

I don't know if you will hear this since, first of all, I'm not convinced that you can actually hear prayers, being in my mind a very good and generous historical figure but not necessarily a deity. The reason for my skepticism is, if you were truly divine and all-powerful, you would not permit your followers, those who call themselves Christians, to behave the way they do. Sure, there are some who are truly the salt of the earth -- people you would be proud of because they live out the tenets of the Gospel in every respect. At the risk of taking your name (or your Father's) in vain, I say God bless them. But these are not the people I'm talking about. The ones I'm referring to are those who need your urgent attention so that they get back in line with your teachings.

As it happens, I know the Gospels inside out, having gone to several Sunday Schools as a child and, then, during my high school years, attended a school where daily morning assemblies involved readings from the Bible, followed by a couple of hymns. We also were required to take Religious Studies classes every term which involved reading the Bible's Old and New Testaments and these we read from beginning to end several times during the course of our high school years.

In the main, I liked what I learned during my youth, especially about you, and, at one point when I was about 20 years old, I began to attend church services in my community, with the intention of becoming a member. On one occasion, I was so moved by what I heard that I joined the line of the faithful at the front of the church, taking communion. Later, to my considerable alarm, I learned that I had committed a mortal sin by taking communion without being in a state of grace. This scared the heck (if you'll pardon the expression) out of me. But nothing happened. I was not struck down on the spot and nothing has happened since. Obviously, you and God have more serious matters to attend to.

What I really want to get into is way more important than my miserable fate -- here on earth or wherever. The crux of the matter is I am seriously distressed by what is being done in your name. It is awful and, if you are truly divine and all-powerful, as your followers claim, I hope and pray that you can do something to straighten things out. I mean, what about that thing about the meek inheriting the earth? There is no sign of that. On the contrary, far-from-meek tax-dodging global corporations, crony capitalists, selfish billionaires, and bought-and-paid-for politicians already own practically everything on earth but want more. To add insult to injury, many of these folks have the gall to claim to be your most devout followers. Could this possibly be true? I doubt it, given your views on the Pharisees and the money-changers. They seem to have missed that lesson, as well as the one about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter Heaven.

Many of your followers are saying that your Second Coming is imminent. Some even have the exact date in their digital calendars. At that time, folks like me and masses of other men, women and children, most of whom have probably led a much more virtuous life than I have, are facing eternal damnation -- burning in hell and the like. That's nothing to sneeze at and I could end up pleading for your mercy soon enough. But, would you, the Prince of Peace, the person who said suffer the little children to come unto me, be a party to such brutality? Given what I know about you, I doubt it.

In fact, I'm betting my immortal soul (if I have one) and my all-too-sensitive skin on your essential goodness and mercy. What on earth would you have to gain from torturing poor sinners like us, given your statements to the effect that none of us is without sin? I honestly don't believe you would do such a thing, based on everything I know from your statements and behavior during your time on earth. You were an exceptionally good person who inspired countless others to do good works for the past two thousand years.

What does not make sense to me, given your messages and actions, is what is being done by large numbers of people who claim to be your most ardent followers. They go to war in your name, acquire huge fortunes in your name, and cast stones in your name. And, while claiming to sanctify life, they stand by while young lives are stunted and often destroyed by unrelieved poverty and the sick go untreated. This they do while claiming to be your elected ones. How could this be? This in not the Jesus I read about and heard about over and over again.

So, Jesus, if you are truly divine, all knowing and omnipotent, please, please do something about these so-called Christians. I know it's a bit presumptuous of me, an acknowledged skeptic, to be petitioning you this way, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as the saying (not one of yours, of course) goes. Some sign or action on your part might help. I'm not talking about what some of your more extreme followers are eagerly anticipating -- Armageddon, the End Times, the Rapture and all of that doomsday stuff. Short of your own imminent return, a latter-day John the Baptist might be a step in the right direction. Regardless, I leave it in your hands, with faith that you will do the right thing, based on everything I know about you.