Friday, July 22, 2005

Jesus Jones

remember that band? well, that's not what this post is about...

Town to town
Broadcast to each house
They drop your name
But no one knows your face
Billboards quoting things
you'd never say
You hang your head
and pray For Jesusland
~ Ben Folds, Jesusland

I have a pretty good feeling that the last name of Jesus is not Jones. For that matter, the closest thing I've ever seen to a surname of Jesus is "of Nazareth". But somehow the Christian community has gotten off track and we see Jesus as less of a revolutionary and more like our next-door-neighbor.

Billboards stating "Let's meet at my house Sunday before the game", "C'mon over and bring the kids", and other numerous phrases are attributed to God - our buddy, our pal. These messages are considered "inspirational". However, let a food chain use the same tactic to sell burritos and suddenly its offensive - such as when a Moe's franchise in Florida used a billboard stating "Welcome to Moe's! - God" (and, yes, I do find their food inspirational). A local pastor was quoted as saying "You just don't use God's name that way. It should not be taken lightly and casually. It is sacred. There are consequences to doing something like this. Judgment can come on these who use the Lord's name in such a vain fashion." More vain than God sitting on the couch, watching football and eating bean dip after singing the first, second and fourth verses of Just As I Am?

We seem to be patterning our lives after each other as Christians rather than after Christ. I know this is nothing new to anyone, but its really hitting me hard lately. Throwing a Super Bowl party without beer is considered a noble Christian achievement of hospitality. Inviting homeless people to dine with you in your home is simply eccentric. Using God to advertise proper church attendance is creative. Using God to peddle burritos is sacrelige. Good, clean-cut people obviously love Jesus. Hurting, smelly people are obviously living in Sin. Its all about "keeping up with the Joneses". As long as I walk the walk, and talk the talk... as long as I appear to be living a pure life... as long as I'm married with 2.5 kids who attend good, christian schools... as long as my life's picture looks good, I'm good. If I struggle with the Word of God... if I ask questions I shouldn't be asking... If I fail to follow the world's standards of success... if I waste my day having coffee and conversation with someone who doesn't love Jesus... If my life's picture looks messy, I'm messed up.

Jesus didn't worry about appearances. In fact, I think he made it a point not to fit into the stereotypical mode of what a God-follower should look like. Jesus came to show us that its not about appearances. He met with rich people and hores. He dined with popular people and paupers. He slept on the ground, and bathed in the river and touched dirty, smelly people. That's not why people followed Him. They followed Him because He genuinely loved people. He wasn't afraid to speak truth. He touched people who had never been touched and listened to people who had never been heard. He looked people in the eye and made time for them and made them feel at peace. Did he accept their invitations to parties? Yes. Did he engage in intellectual conversations? Yes. But he was the same person wherever He went - He didn't try to be something He wasn't.

People who don't know Jesus look to the Church to see who He is. Many are turned away, because they don't want to have any part in what they see. Too many people see the Body of Christ as a bunch of phonies. A bunch of people who get all dressed up to sit in big, comfy, air-conditioned sanctuaries on Sunday mornings (you get bonus points for Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights), maybe do some outreach once or twice a year, and avoid commiting any public sins (or at least the "biggies"). I understand this is a generalization, and I know many men who have served God and touched lives faithfully even in khakis. But the Church has got to focus less on what a "good christian family" looks like and more on what an Authentic Christian Life entails. I am convicting myself - how sacrificial is my life? How surrendered am I to God and to His purpose? Do I truly desire Him? Do I truly trust Him? I don't want to swing by His place on Sunday mornings - I want to depend on Him daily and shine His love to other people - the unlovable and the unloving. And even as I remove layers from my life, trying to get to the core of what its all about, I am seeing more and more how much farther I have to go.

4 comments:

Ramonsito said...

Wow...now that is the way to return to blogging!

Where to even start...I guess I will first say I laughed out loud when you said: "I know many men who have served God and touched lives faithfully even in khakis."

Then I will next say, thank you for the challenge. It's so much easier to follow any other example than the one Jesus set, and it doesn't hurt that when you are sure not to get too far in front of or behind the crowd you get their approval too.

In moving to Portland, I'm constantly beset by the realization that simply moving out of the Bible Belt is not going to make me a more authentic, revolutionary follower of Jesus. That has to come from my surrender to Him, and it will be more important for me to do it there than it has ever been anywhere else in my life. Thanks for that reminder.

Rebekah said...

You've bumped my pulse up a knotch or two! Thank you for this inspired post. I am particularly challenged by:
"If I struggle with the Word of God... if I ask questions I shouldn't be asking... If I fail to follow the world's standards of success... if I waste my day having coffee and conversation with someone who doesn't love Jesus... If my life's picture looks messy, I'm messed up."
I've recently been challenged over and over by the example of many around us who aren't pursuing the world's standard of success. Maybe I need to get courageous and humble enough to let my life look messy, insignificant, and worthless in the eyes of the world (and the Church?) for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thanks!

MW Rice said...

Wonderful post :)

jimmie glover said...

In fact, I think he made it a point not to fit into the stereotypical mode of what a God-follower should look like.
i agree, i have always thought that people make a big deal about clothes and apperance. one qoute i have heard is that god wants our best. but i belive god does not want our best he wants our all. good bad and ugly. we are afriad to come to god ugly. afriad to show our weakness. like me who cant type. i mean we are afriad to be our self. god told people to come as you are. come to me those who are weary. not those who are clean and ready for chrurch. you have chalanege me. the one word that is coming to my head is intentional. being intenational with everyone i meet. that is hard. to be about the job of showing and sharing christ everyday in everyway. even in times we do not feel like it. in our worship and our life on sunday and on the job with our friends at the places we shop to be like christ....