Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Faces of Jesus

The following short article recently appeared in the Abbotsford-Mission Times which resulted in a flurry of emails to my inbox. I thought I'd post it here for the world of blog to enjoy.

Maybe you have noticed, or maybe you haven’t, but there seems to be an over-abundance of “Jesuses” that have taken over the modern landscape of Christian thought. The attempt to modernize and make contemporary the Biblical and historical Jesus has given us some humorous and, admittedly, some embarrassing modern depictions of Jesus. Some of these pictures of Jesus, however, have proven to be quite loyal to the person, work, and divinity of Jesus while others have been about as successful as a miracle diet pill.

While the Bible is quite clear on who Jesus is, it is also quite clear in its warnings to avoid teaching that presents a Jesus other than the Jesus presented in Scripture. I am continually amazed at how creatively we tend to read our own culture back into the portrait of Jesus. I’ll give you a few examples.

To begin with, there is the always popular single, white, North American and totally employable Jesus who drives a mini-van and lives in the suburbs. This Jesus often pops up in paintings with blue eyes and boyish good looks.

The 1960’s step-cousin to this Jesus is the VW hippie Jesus who wandered Palestine as a homeless peasant with some quasy-intellectual thoughts and a few witty stories to entertain the people. Hippie-Jesus was non-confrontational, totally tolerant, and staged a few sit-ins just to show how tolerant and non-confrontational he was.

The opposite of Hippie-Jesus is UFC-cage-fighter-Jesus currently being made popular by a preacher in Seattle. This Jesus can take a beating, drinks beer, eats red meat, curses, worked a construction job, and will – in this round or the next – kick some tail.

And while Moralist-Jesus disapproves of UFC-Jesus drinking beer, he definitely agrees with Political-Lobbyist-Jesus that they need to put someone in a headlock.

Of course there is also Capitalist-Jesus, Che Guevera-Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar-Jesus, Environmentalist-Jesus, and Oprah Winfrey-Jesus. There is Jesus the Economist, Jesus MD, Houdini-Jesus, the Great Therapist in the Sky Jesus, and the unforgettable eight pound six ounce Will Ferrell baby Jesus. To name a few.

With so many versions of Jesus, it is understandable why the identity of Jesus is vague, lost, confused, misrepresented, or abused by so many. This is especially true in the Abbotsford Bible belt where, though our theology may present Jesus as both King and Saviour, often our lives present him as anything but. Largely, the picture and image of Jesus that your spouse, classmates, co-workers, and neighbours see, is the picture and image of your life. What image are you presenting? What is the picture and portrait of Jesus you are painting for the people around you?

Our claim that Jesus is “King” and “Saviour” is our claim that we organize our lives around the obedience to his teaching. If this is our claim, we arrange our lifestyle, finances, schedules, sex lives, and our eating and drinking around the unique call and commission of Jesus Christ. If this is our claim, we have the deep and ongoing responsibility of seeking out and following the Biblical picture of Jesus. Which Jesus do you represent?

3 comments:

Geoff Heith said...

Great thoughts Jer...totally been on my mind lately...

Jeffrey P. Ansloos said...

Gun-slinging Jesus looks like a bad-ass.

Seriously though, I think you should post a blog post with 'post-secret' responses to your articles.

I have a funny suspicion you might make more friends... hahaha.

Miss ya man.

jeremy postal said...

I actually would have called gun-slinging Jesus "American Jesus"

...but whatever.

:)