Monday, February 6, 2012

JESUS, Part 1

Living in South Dakota, we can see snow for as much as six or seven months out of the year. And since I have such distaste for snow and the cold, I have to do something to stay warm during those months (while moving seems to be the most plausible solution, I can’t tell you why I haven’t). I have found the best option is a hot-tub. Although I do not own one, nor have I ever owned one, I have always made it a point to befriend someone that either has one, or has access to one (I know, I’m shallow).

During several of my college years, I fortunately had a friend that worked in a hotel during our breaks. This particular evening was typical for December. It was a cold (more than likely well into the negative digits with the wind-chill) and snowy.  A few friends and I decided to meet up at the hotel and spend the evening relaxing in the hot-tub. One by one, as we showed up, we took over the hotel lobby and began chatting about the new Lord of the Rings movies. I’m not sure what time it was, but I do know it was well after our agreed upon meeting time (I’m a stickler for promptness). As you can probably guess, we were still waiting on one of our friends and his fiancé to show up. We waited. And waited. And we waited some more.

Finally, through the cold, foggy glass I saw the headlights of what appeared to be an unmistakably red Dodge Stealth. As it pulled into the parking lot, I thought it would be befitting of me to meet the tardy couple halfway. As two individuals got out of the car, all bundled up in their bulky winter coats, hats and gloves, and began strolling to the front door, I proceeded to cut them off and so kindly inform them that they were late. As I walked through the door and neared the two up them, I began to, in my most stern voice, inform them how much trouble they were in for said tardiness. Just as soon as I had spoken those words, the couple took their gaze off their steps and made eye contact with me, something profound occurred to me. This couple was not the couple we were all waiting for.  It was then I decided it would be best to make my way back into the lobby, quite red from embarrassment, and keep my mouth shut. Afterall, that was the second time that week I had a case of mistaken identity. The other occurred earlier in during the week at Scheels. The short version is as follows: I had spent several minutes searching the aisles for something that must have been important (reiterated by the fact that I likely don’t have it anymore and can’t recall what it was). Finally, after I had just about given up I spotted a Scheels employee in the unmistakable yellow button up shirt and khaki pants. As I approached said employee and asked where to find this most important item he turned around with quite a puzzled look and informed me he had no clue. Turns out other people in town are highly capable of wearing a yellow button up shirt and khaki pants.

Why did I tell you these stories? I think it was because I was trying to make a correlation with the church and its mistaken identity of Jesus.

It seems to me, the church has confused Jesus with Mr. Rogers. According to the church today, the man on the cross and Mr. Rogers are so similar you almost can’t distinguish between the two. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus can be nice, he can be calm, cool, and collected, but that is only a part of who he is. It seems to me, nobody would have a problem with a Mr. Rogers-esque guy…at least not enough of a problem to crucify him!

Let me tell you why Jesus is not like Mr. Rogers. Let’s start with the obvious, Mr. Rogers is white and whether you believe it or not, Jesus was Middle-Eastern and Jewish. Mr. Rogers always had nice things to say and never caused a stir. And then there is the fact that Mr. Rogers lives in a perfect world made of puppets and trains; a world in which everyone always learns their lesson and takes it to heart. A world where everyday is a “beautiful day.” A world quite the opposite of the one in which you and I live. The world of Mr. Rogers is very disconnected from reality and I can’t relate to it at all. And for that, Mr. Rogers becomes a man I cannot relate to. But Jesus…Jesus is different. He didn’t stay in his perfect world. He took on flesh, became a man, and stepped into our screwed up world, in order that he might relate to us and inevitably save us.

You see, the Jesus I read about in this book we call the Bible, is nothing like Mr. Rogers. Jesus isn’t always prim and proper, like Mr. Rogers (although I have heard rumors about him being an ex-marine with tattoos covering his arms—Mr. Rogers, not Jesus). Well, let me rephrase that…Jesus isn’t exactly like Mr. Rogers. There may be some similarities, but not nearly enough to confuse the two. Mr. Rogers is a nice guy, who wears a blue cardigan (I don’t ever picture Jesus in a cardigan—especially a blue one), always makes sure his shoes are tied, speaks with a kind voice, and always smiles. Jesus may exhibit similar characteristics (with the exception of the shoes since he wore sandals) from time-to-time, but that is by no means the entire picture of who Jesus is.

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