Monday, February 06, 2006

the Jesuses i have known

Brian Mclaren begins his book "A Generous Orthodoxy" by explaining the seven Jesuses he has known in his life. In other words, the seven understandings of Jesus that, at one time or another, dominated his thoughts, prayers, and theology. It is an interesting concept. My friend Mark challenged me to also think about and figure out how many Jesuses I have known in my 25 years. Here is what I came up with:

1). "The Big Guy in the Sky" Jesus - This is the view of Jesus I possessed as a child. I didn't care about Him and He didn't care about me. I'm sure He was up there doing whatever He does up there, but it made no difference to me. I was too busy playing "Goonies" in my backyard.

2). "Raining on my Parade" Jesus - In Junior High, I thought of Jesus as this All-Powerful Ruiner of fun. If I enjoyed it, it was probably wrong and Jesus was mad at me for doing it. I remember my best-friend Cory going to church camp at the beginning of each summer. He would return and be absolutely no fun to hang-out with. One time at the park, another boy asked me where Cory was and I answered, "Oh, he's at church camp. It sucks. He'll come back and be on a 'holy high' for a few weeks before he's back to normal. He does this every year." For some reason that memory is burned as clear as crystal in my mind.

3). "The Ticket to the Train" Jesus - After being led to "accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior" at an Illinois Christian Teen Convention my sophmore year in highschool by Mike Singletary (yes...Mike Singletary, the Chicage Bears' Hall of Fame linebacker), the first Jesus I knew was the one who would get me through those pearly gates and onto that street of gold when I died. What good was He before I died? I don't know, doesn't matter. I got my ticket to the train. One Saturday afternoon, my buddy Jeff and I broke into the Junior Highschool gym to shoot hoops. The entire time I tried to convince him that he could never be good enough to get into heaven on his own. "You need Jesus, so that when you die you go to heaven, not hell." That was the extent of my evangelical prowess.

4). "Follow me and You Can Still be Cool" Jesus - the mid to late 90's, if a youth minister bleached his hair and grew a goatee he could double the size of his youth group in a year. Period. Actually, I'm kinda serious. The fact that following Jesus didn't mean pleated khakis and a side-part for the rest of my life was a huge deal. I could be a Christian and not have to commit social suicide? Sweet. As long as you don't mess with my image...we'll be alright.

5). "I Want What is Best for You" Jesus - This is undoubtedly the Jesus I knew for the longest period of time in my life. He really needs no explanation. Just walk into any Christian bookstore and look around for awhile. You'll figure it out.

6). "I Want What is Best for the World" Jesus - Discovering this Jesus absolutely shook me to the core. Wait...Jesus cares as much about the sick and starving people of the world as he does that I can't get 'so and so' to like me? Maybe even more? Unbelievable. And now you are going to tell me that His favor falls as much on the oppressed and dying souls in third world countries as it does on the SUV driving church-goers of America? It seriously was almost too much for me to handle. I thank Brian Smith and the books of K.P. Yohannan for helping me find this Jesus.

7). "I Want What is Best for Me" Jesus - This Jesus is the Jesus I am currently calling Jesus. The difference between Him and the two previous Jesuses is that he encompasses them both. Ultimately, what is best for me and what is best for the world is the exact same thing as what is best for Jesus...however, the pleasure and glory of Christ is eternal and should then be supreme. His Name's sake is the sole motivation for why He does all He does. And His Name is the salvation of the world. He is first and foremost, always and forever.

So, those are the Jesuses I have known. To be honest, I was embarrassed at first to share this with you. Some of those Jesuses, especially the Ones since my conversion, are very unsettling for me. But you know what, I'm not afraid for you to read this. Because none of those Jesuses are bad. None. There are just incomplete. And that is okay.

Think of a toddler. She has no clue how her daddy provides for, supports, and protects her. Her mind does not possess the ablility to comprehend the part he played in giving her life. She has no idea of the sacrifice he makes on a daily basis for her to live and play and laugh. All she knows is that he is really fun to snuggle with while watching princess movies. That is the daddy she knows: "Fun to Snuggle With While Watching Princess Movies" daddy. One day she'll figure out that he is more. One day she may even appreciate him for all that he is. But until then, you know what her father is going to do? Snuggle with her and watch princess movies. Because it is not her cognitive understanding of who he is and what he does that he longs for. Its her. Her love and affection. Her excitement when he comes home from work. Her putting down her toys, clumsily running to and wrapping her soft, little hands around his neck. Its her. Her time, her attention, her smile. Its just her. And if snuggling while watching princess movies is how she connects with him...well, then you better believe that he will be the darned happiest "Fun to Snuggle With While Watching Princess Movies" daddy in this entire world. Because it is really just her that he wants.


Jake said...

I think this was a good article. I like how you say our view is incomplete. Won't it be great when we see the complete? BTW, this is a reference to the great Rick Keck and sons discussion...

Betsy said...

i love the kecks.

Dustin said...

that's a great book, really enjoyed it.