Monday, April 17, 2006

Jesus 2006

Another Resurrection Day has come and gone.

While I take pleasure in celebrating the fact that Jesus overcame the sting of death by raising from the dead, sometimes I wish that rising from the dead was the only thing He did. Sometimes I wish that, rather than ascending back to Heaven, He'd stay right here with us. Now, I know that He sent the Holy Spirit as a comforter for us...but, wouldn't it be cool if He stayed here? I wonder how the world would be right now. What would Jesus 2006 be like?

I think it would be interesting to see how Jesus' ministry would be shaped out in today's world. I'd be especially interested to see who He would chose as His disciples. But if history serves as an indicator, I personally don’t think that Jesus would've selected “church leaders” and religious folks of the time. Rather, I think that Jesus would probably choose the guy working the dead end job at the supermarket. He’d choose the Cuban housekeeper who vacuumed His motel room. He’d select the busboy from the diner who just cleaned His table. Maybe He’d go with the recently divorced taxi driver who gave Him a ride at 2 o'clock in the morning. I think He’d choose the broken-hearted waitress trying to earn enough money to move away from her abusive boyfriend. Perhaps the overworked social worker or the ex-cop who now has a major drug habit would be invited to come along. I imagine that the garbage collector, whose wife, a low-payed school teacher, is at home recovering from a miscarriage would be a part of Jesus’ group. How about the dirty mechanic who changed the oil in Jesus' beat up jalopy free of charge? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the used up prostitute who propositioned Him, along with her pimp would become two of His closet companions.

I doubt that He’d tell any of them how horrible He thought they were. Instead, He’d show them just how precious they were in God’s eyes. Just like the men who lowered their paralytic friend through the roof, Jesus would see their faith and forgive them. His love, kindness, and touch would heal them. These are the folks who would ultimately carry His message out into the world. Perhaps the busboy I mentioned earlier would go on to be the rock on which Jesus built His church. Hmmm...

I think that Jesus would have chosen people who were on the fringe of society because they really don't have much to lose. Maybe people like this are the only ones who can really grasp His message of love, acceptance, mercy, forgiveness, and grace…simply because they're the ones who need these things the most. I'm afraid that most of us have too much to lose when it comes to following Jesus. I mean, we’d have to give up too many of our possessions or those things that possess us. So rather than helping Jesus promote His message to the world, we’d be busy sitting on the sidelines playing “armchair quarterback”; while waiting for Him to screw up, fail, or get arrested.

I bet that a huge segment of the church (and America, for that matter) really wouldn’t like Jesus that much. They’d consider His teachings radical, unconventional, and…who knows…maybe even blasphemous. He'd show up at various church functions and make some of the members nervous. Some of the deacons and ministers would probably even get jealous of His popularity. I think that most of the congregation would be appalled by His message of love, inclusion, mercy and justice saying that He’s not doing things “decent and in order”.

On the other hand, kids would absolutely cling to Him. Women would feel safe and secure, important, and recognized. Some members would be genuinely captivated by His knowledge of God's word and, more important, by His actions. Others, however, would try to argue and debate with Him over interpretation of the Scripture. When Jesus would try to explain to them that He was the Word, I can imagine some church folks having the nerve to challenge Him on it. Furthermore, can you imagine how funny it would be to see Jesus snatch the sheets off of the church and expose their nakedness through His sermons?

I can imagine Jesus moving His ministry outside of the church as well. During a speech He'd give in Washington during an anti-war rally, He’d probably be arrested, mocked, and unfairly tried by the Supreme Court. After finding Him guilty of trumped up charges like conspiracy and treason, the cops would then beat the crap out of Him and toss Him in a jail cell with two criminals on death row. I wonder who would be cheering, "Crucify! Him!” (actually, since we now use the electric chair, I guess it would be more like “Cruci-FRY Him!”). Would I be in the group cheering for His death or would I be one of the guys who claimed to support Him but ran away and hid when things got sticky? Would I be one of the guys who completely denied knowing Jesus?! Would I sit back and do nothing as my Savior was being persecuted?

What if Jesus 2006 walked among us?

- ACL

22 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

joel said...

If you think about it, Jesus had a remarkable way of associating with ‘the least of these’. Peter and Andrew were poor fisherman. Matthew was a widely hated tax collector. Jesus chose people who are on the fringe of society to be His friends and to help Him advance His cause. It's interesting to note that He didn't choose the prominent religious leaders of the day to be His disciples.

Very nice, my friend.

ellena said...

Great point Joel. I just can hear Jesus telling His chosen ones: "Friends, think of what you were when I first called you. You weren’t popular. You weren’t widely accepted by society. You weren’t influential. You weren’t in powerful positions. But I chose you, the least of the people, to be with Me. I chose you, the poor, to open the eyes of the rich. I chose you, the weak people of the world, to humble the strong. I chose you, the sickly, to help me heal others. Walk with Me. Be My friends."

What an awesome post Andre. I think you nailed it!

Alex said...

Incredible! I could just see Jesus in 2006!

I've noticed that you use terrific metaphors and illustrations to get your points across. Where do you find your inspiration?! Where to you come up with your ideas?

Alex said...

Excellent post. Although not much of a religious person (more spiritual actually) I enjoy other people's takes on their religion. I think you are bang on as far as your assessment of how Jesus would have been viewed by today's society. (which isn't really too far from how he was viewed by his own time)

Andre said...

@ joel: Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight. I agree with you when you say that Jesus often associated with "the least of these". It's interesting to think that many of our "leaders" would be omitted from the group of Jesus' followers.

@ ellena: I think that Jesus has a way of using anything or anybody to reveal things to the larger community. You're right on the money!

@ alex (number 1?): Thank you for your kind words and for your affirmation. I get my ideas and materials from all over the place. Whether from discussions I've had with other people, things I've read, things that someone else has shared with me...on, and on, and on...

I think that there's something to be said about picking up things from others and using it to help you grow as well!

@ alex (number 2?): Like you, I also try to avoid being too "religious". If used incorrectly, religion can be a very dangerous tool. The "Great Crusades" were done in the name of religion. 9/11 was done in the name of religion. Religion has more blood on its hand than war does (many wars, by the way, were a product of religious conflicts). People are persecuted and oppressed in the name of religion. I could go on and on...

Jesus wasn't about imposing His will on people through rules and laws. Neither should we.

Somewhere -- down the road -- we lost sight of that.

I think that we could really benefit from having a modern day Jesus in our midst.

joanne said...

If I can, I'd like to weigh in here for a second...

While I thought this was an incredible post, I take some issue with the picture that you used to represent your point. Yes, it did a great job of illustrating how Jesus would be while in our midst, but it shows that his "disciples" are all around him consuming wine coolers, bear, and cigarettes. Do you REALLY think that Jesus would be reduced to this?

What about standards? What about changing your lifestyle?

I get the point of your post, but I think you missed the mark a little here.

kc said...

As always, brother, some annoying, convicting and challenging writing! What a blessing you are to me!

djg said...

Andre, your so right on. I don't think leadership reading was a top priority of kingdom. I'm glad he moves toward the poor in spirit, gives me hope that I might someday go beyond being just a Christian and become a solid disciple.

Anonymous said...

So real, Andre! A recurring theme in my life as of late has been this notion of religiosity versus spirituality - it's as if I read the Bible and see it in gray shades and then talk to other "Christians" and find their lifestyles and thoughts to be completely contrary to what Jesus taught. Amazing post!

Anyway, I sent this post to my dad (whose a preacher) - so it'll probably get ripped off for a sermon eventually. :)

Andre said...

@ joanne: Where would I be without your insight?! We may not always agree on things, but I SERIOUSLY thank you for sharing your perspectives!

Let me just say, though, that I don't think you entirely get where I'm coming from. To answer your question, yes I think that Christians have a standard. But, will Jesus dismiss us if we don't hit the mark? That's the point I was making.

Peter, for instance, DIRECTLY dissed Jesus but that didn't stop Him from building His church on Peter. Likewise, as Christians, we sin every day of our lives...and have yet to fall out of grace. Simply put, Jesus accepts us even when we do wrong.

@ kc: Thanx, my man! Trust me when I say, this stuff convicts me more than anyone else.

@ djg: You said a mouthful. I think we all should make it our goal to stop being a "Christian" and start being a follower of Christ.

@ anonymous: Once it hits in the internet, my stuff if fair game! Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

i guess i don't get your post. what do you mean what if jesus walked among us? jesus walks with us everyday. plus like you said he sent the holy ghost as a comforter. what else do you need?

karen said...

Wow. This was such a great post!
You left me asking all sorts of questions: How would we see him? How would we respond? Would he even talk to us? Would he come to my church? What would he say if he did?

You continue to amaze me with your writing!

natasha said...

I don't think that Jesus would really have a problem choosing existing leaders. I think the question is whether or not those leaders would be willing to step out of their positions to follow Jesus.

Thanks for another challenging post, Andre. I knew I could count on you!

Diane said...

You challenge me to think beyond the "normal everyday", Andre.

I think a lot of people forget that Jesus accepts us as we are when we accept Him as Savior and Lord.........But then we are to begin the process of allowing Him to CHANGE us to be more like Him every day. Some of us, somewhere in the process, begin to believe we've ARRIVED at a place in our lives that we are "religious" enough, and come to a stand-still, satisified with our SELF-righteousness.

When we stop allowing Jesus to convict us of our sins daily, challenging us to repent and allow ourselves to be molded in His image, we tend to start judging others by OUR standards, when we shouldn't be judging at all.
It's very easy to fall into a comfortable "churchy" safe zone, and judge others as too poor, too dirty, too sinful, "too"___________
...fill in the blank.
As usual, you made me think, Andre, and made me just a little uncomfortable with my thinking in some areas of my discipleship, which means I need to do some adjustments to be more like Him. Thanks again, friend. :)

green eyed girl on planet earth said...

Hi Greeneyedman
It would be life altering if Jesus lived in our times with the knowledge we have today , but I sadly feel History would repeat itself and over a period of time those who are frightened by differences in people would rise and cause a clash and as you said they would eventually want to “Cruci-FRY Him!”). We as humans need to get it together and worry not about what is different in each other , and stop judging, if not ,then 2006 0r 20006 ,sadly ,,would not have a different ending for this story .
Greeneyes

Andre said...

@ anonymous: I was thinking about a physical, flesh-n-bones version of Jesus walking among us. A physical presence of Jesus would validate His existence with many unbelievers I think (remember the story of Doubting Thomas?)

@ karen: Thanks for your comments. The questions you are asking are important ones that help us to identify our relationship with Christ. These are some of the questions I struggle with everyday.

@ natasha: I agree! Too many people fail to count the cost of discipleship. We jump in headfirst without understanding the price we must pay to follow Him. Thank you, as always!

@ Diane: Preach, sista! You are right on SO MANY LEVELS, it's almost scary.

I've always thought it to be interesting that Jesus, though He was the ULTIMATE standard bearer, never judged us or beat us over the head behind a bully pulpit. Why, then, do we feel like we have the right to do so?

Thanks for breaking down the Word like that. I feel like we need to take up an offering now...:)

@ Green: I'm sooo in love with you. You've got amazing insight! I completely agree with you: If we were to write our own Gospel as we followed Jesus 2006, the results WOULD be the same. He'd still be judged, persecuted, and tried by religious folks, betrayed by one of His chosen disciples (would it be me?), or abandoned by the rest of them.

However, what would also stay the same is Jesus' love and compassion for EVERYONE; from the lowliest of people to the most regal of people; sinner and saint; Jew and Gentile...

Thanks, as usual, for blessing me!

green eyed girl on planet earth said...

Hi my greeneyed bandit!
Wow:) :) :) what every girl loves to hear from a man , I am flattered , I think you are really wonderful yourself, how far away did you say you were ?*mental note to self :check distance from Greeneyed man .LOL*hehehehe

your "friend" /that was mentioned in greeneyed bandits blog (posts), will be getting ruffled feathers ! show her some lovin' :)
I think you are a very insightful , deep, passionate ,intellegent soul , with a twist .making people who read "You" question their beliefs in ways that makes people pay attention to your point, you have great writing abilities , is that your Field of work???
Do you have an in depth knowlegde of the Bible ?does your religion guide you ?or spirituality?does your relgion have the Virgin mary as an important part of its structure ? I guess that is enough picking your brain for now , may God and his angels keep you safe , take care my Greeneyed man :0) Oh, if too personal , just dont answer me , dont block me! ha ha ha ha ha ha . :)
Greeneyes

kc said...

Not entirely the subject of the post, but:

"Andre and Green-eyed, sittin' in a tree..."

Sorry, brotha. Couldn't resist...

Andre said...

@ Green: Wow! You're pretty prolific with your responses. Thanks for taking the time to comment. You've got me cheesing from ear to ear!

Thanks, especially for the "insightful, deep, passionate, intellegent..." compliments, though I think that these descriptions precede me. I wouldn't exactly say that I'm any of the above: just a person interested in gaining more perspective on the Person to whom I gave my life and soul. I think that Jesus is inexhaustible and that there is ALWAYS something new that we can learn about Him.

I'll try to answer each of your questions, if you don't mind reading my responses. I promise not to keep them lengthy:

(1) I wouldn't say that I have a deep knowledge of the Bible. Again, I'm one of the guys who thinks that God is too infinite for me to have "cornered the market" on understanding Him.

(2) I try not to be guided by "religion" as an organization. It has too many rules/restrictions for my liking. Religion introduces too many conditions that must be made. Besides that, I don't think that Jesus was very "religious" either. Spirituality, on the other hand, is about a personal connection to God (or whatever God people decide to worship) that is not limited to rules.

(3) Mary was important to our faith in that she was used by God to deliver the Savior to the world, though she herself was lowly. To me, she also represents a powerful woman of faith, who had the will and determination to accept God's call, even if it seemed impossible. But, she IS NOT to be worshipped as some religions choose to do. The Bible clearly indicates that we are not to worship anyone but Christ. That's not to say that she's not respected; just not worshipped.

Dude, feel free to pick my brain any time. One of the things that I really, REALLY love is discussing things with others. I love learning new ideas from different people. That can only truly come through interaction. For me, no questions are "too personal"...

You've got a terrific spirit and an incredible ability to touch people; even if you're only ministering through your computer. I'm a fan! Thanks again!

@ kc: You're about four seconds away from gettin' a Stone Cold Stunner! But, you're still my boy anyway.

joanne said...

I think KC might be on to something.

Definitely some cybernetic chemistry here. LOL!

cynthia said...

Solid post, Andre. One of my favorite musicals is Godspell, partly because it presents Jesus' life in the modern day (well, at least from the 1970's).

This really painted a clear picture for me. I'm really amazed at your writing!

Andre said...

@ joanne: Not you too! Don't fall prey to the temptation!

@ cynthia: I was never really a fan of Godspell. It was a little too corny for my liking. But I get your point.

Thanks!