I spent a long time thinking about this one. Not only because there are quite a few people that fascinate me, but people in general are rather fascinating. In the end though, I think in terms of influence, historical relevance, and impact upon lives the only person that I can honestly say fascinates me the most is Jesus Christ. Now I know what some of you are saying “Hansen, you are a Christian, so obviously that is the answer you SHOULD give, but what is your actual answer?” To that I say “Seriously, the person that fascinates me most is Jesus Christ.” No one in the history of the world has impacted SO many lives in all different continents, people groups, languages and cultures. And is still impacting them today.
There is just something about the life of Jesus that draws me towards him. His life and teachings are incredible, the fact that his disciples weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed was (and I would argue still is) such a counter-cultural move. Especially considering that modern leaders are usually viewed as having charismatic qualities, the ability to speak well, and they are rather intelligent. But his disciples were common lay-people, not charismatic, intelligent speakers. Yet, they were still chosen. He fascinates me because he was, and still is counter-cultural with all the things that he said. The fact that he used a cultural enemy to the Jews (a Samaritan) to make a point of who your neighbor is, was brilliant.
Jesus is one of the most talked about figures in all of history, every year there is always a documentary about him, there are seems to be new books about him, religious figures try to re-imagine him. His Crucifixion and Resurrection are always re-theorized (well mainly his Resurrection). And yet, the Jesus found in the words of the Bible, spoken about by other Christians, the Jesus who despite knowing, seeing and experiencing the depth of brokenness of a human being still chose to come to Earth. Take the punishment we so deserve, so that we can experience a Grace that will give us the freedom we do not deserve, but always seem to chase.
Finally He fascinates me because of the way His life and His life-changing words transcend cultures and ethnic groups. He is greater than the most disastrous, life changing situations we can think of. As I type this, I think about Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, and a man I greatly respect. Not too long ago, Matt was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. Most people (I think myself included) would have questioned if God existed, or questioned His goodness, but the fact that Matt (and his entire family) maintained the stance that He is enough…He is more than enough, and whatever happens to him, Jesus is still Good…amazes me. The amount of faith and trust that Matt has in Jesus, astounds me. The fact that around the world, Christians are being imprisoned and killed because they would not renounce Christ astounds me. If Jesus’ teachings, if His life wasn’t life-changing these people would have no reason to believe in Him still.
Along the same lines, no other person has changed me as much as Jesus Christ. I could give my life story out in full detail here, but i’m sure you don’t want to read it all. All you need to know is that before I knew Jesus I was so full of violent, hateful hair-trigger rage. I aspired to be a “smooth-talking dawg.” So to speak. Meaning, a player of the field. After Jesus began working on my life, it didn’t get easier. In all honesty I would say it got harder. As sin (lust, bitterness, anger etc) in my life became more and more apparent and the fact that these sins owned me, I became more and more aware of just how powerless I truly was/am to change myself. A lesson I am still learning to this very day. I am also learning daily, just how much His Grace covers (and by that I mean EVERYTHING). Despite the fact that a part of me wants to deny His existence and deity (that way I can have freedom, according to the worlds definition of free), He keeps on pulling me back in. I can’t escape His influence and impact. And the part that never wants to keeps on growing. For that I am incredibly thankful.