James Baldwin and Jesus never met. Or perhaps, I should say, that if they had, Baldwin did not talk much about it. At least not in public. Baldwin did not consider himself a Christian. He said as much. He grew up in a very strict, somewhat brutal Christian home and was a child preacher for a brief time to please his father. When he walked away, he walked away from it all.
It’s strange, he certainly lived in a way that Jesus would have found blessed. Jesus would have told his story in a parable. Perhaps he did. His life was sacrificial. His life was rooted in love. He considered people very important.
“From my point of view — no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed, no religion is more important than the human being.” Jesus would have been delighted with these words.
While Baldwin did not consider himself a Christian, Jesus considered himself a human being in much the same way Baldwin lived his life and this – Jesus believing in him – is as much an active faith as the other way around.
(James Baldwin, Beauford Delaney, 1963 Pastel on paper.)