Monthly Archives: August 2011

Plastic Jesus

This post is more a reminder for me than it is a lecture for anyone else.  Read it if you wish, but look upon it as something written for myself to go back and read later.  If you find personal truth – it is God’s doing, not mine.

“I don’t care if it rains or freezes as long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus sitting on the dashboard of my car it comes in colors pink and pleasant it glows in the dark cause its iridescent I’ll take it with me whenever I go far so give me my lady Madonna dressed in rhinestones and sitting on a pedestal of abalone shells driving 90 but I’m not scared because I’ve got my Virgin Mary assuring me that I will never go to hell”

(Plastic Jesus – era 1950 – covered by many)

Or maybe the same sentiment in a song from my generation:

“I’m the son of rage and love
The Jesus of Suburbia
From the bible of none of the above
On a steady diet of
Soda pop and Ritalin
No one ever died for my sins in hell
As far as I can tell
At least the ones I got away with

And there’s nothing wrong with me
This is how I’m supposed to be
In a land of make believe
That don’t believe in me” (Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia – Pt1)

Is your Jesus made of Plastic?

Who is your Jesus?  Is he made in your image?  In your plastic mold?  At the personal “My Jesus” {tm} factory?

Any self-proclaimed Christian reading this would respond an immediate “no, of course not”… I certainly would say that at first glance.

Confession:  I caught myself this week worshiping a plastic Jesus.

Here’s how this works…

1.)  Enter months of pent-up and building frustration over the handling of our two separate foster care cases.

2.)  Build impressions of apathy about our kids – except for us/me – based pretty logically on decisions made and actions taken by social workers and lawyers (logically that is, from our perspective!).  Secretly allow pride and superiority into my heart.

3.)  Build impression of deceit in conflicting statements made by the same people and reversing decisions without explanation.  Secretly allow rage, hate, disappointment, depression.

4.)  Enter plastic Jesus, created by me, who secretly approves of my singular viewpoint and my limited scope of primary knowledge on every matter around me.  Secretly allow increased egotism/pride over my ability to comprehend EVERY situation, not just this one.

5.)  Build disdain for wife based on factless impression.  Worship plastic Jesus, he approves.

6.)  Build disdain for some Church leaders based on factless imagination.  Worship plastic Jesus, he approves.

6.5) Patience and Grace… ideas like permitting “the benefit of the doubt” to others silently slip away.

7.)  Start saying things to others based on platform of self-righteousness accompanied by Plastic Jesus.

8.)  Continue secretly (or not so secretly?) feeling increasingly abandoned, helpless, angry, frustrated, lonely, ineffective and useless.

*DIVINE INTERVENTION*

FUTURE:  9.)  Enemy wins, outrageous destruction ensues.

—-

Through a building set of circumstances clearly divinely designed to get my attention again over the last day or two… I realized that somewhere around step 2 I stopped talking to the real God about my feelings.  I stopped considering that his perspective is superior to mine and that I cannot define him.  I stopped reading his word and I actually began visiting old websites and listening to old music that I hadn’t visited in a LONG LONG time where I do not belong and I know full well that negatively impact my thinking.  Then I started participating in them… and telling myself that it’s ok, I can handle it… I’m here to help save these people… except I wasn’t sharing the Gospel with anyone.  How did I get there so quickly?!

I’ve followed this pattern before, but not quite to this extent.  I would venture many or all of us have.  Stop it.  Jesus is not plastic.

God has made the truth of his existence and that of his Son, his Word and his Holy Spirit to me – a clear reality – time and time again.  It’s crazy that he continues to pursue me through times like this.  With unfailing Love he sees all and produces one event after another to trip me up and get my attention before I walk down that *Gentle Path to Hell and don’t turn back.

* “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” – C.S. Lewis (of course, who else would I quote?!)

Yesterday was the penultimate day of reconciliation:

While continuing to pursue my bad habits, speaking badly to my wife, making false assumptions, having bad attitudes, etc… :

1.)  An old friend recently re-discovered on Facebook from my old “hacking days” has somehow become an intense mystic catholic.  Obsessively loving amulets, symbols, special magical words… often it almost sounds like he’s casting a spell.  He posted something that basically condemned all non-pope-worshiping self-proclaimed Christians to hell and actually quoted “a” jesus… not from the Bible… but from some random ‘revelationary event’ held in the 1970’s by some South American “Catholic” group basically claiming to be a new prophet.  I cannot think of a more obvious example of a Plastic Jesus that God could have chosen to confront me.  Here’s a group of people fully desiring and engaging in significant activity to make up new rules about who God is and who he approves of irregardless of his actual original word.  As if his original word had been incomplete!  I began to type a public rebuttal to him… and then I stopped… and erased it… and I realized that my Jesus had been recently plastic too.  I’m still trying to decide how to go back and tell him that Jesus loves him… and me… and even the “bad people” that we both agree are bad.

2.)  A former student TXT’d me at 2am this morning and we held a short conversation.  I haven’t spoken more than 2 words to him in 16-18 months.  I have been aware for some time of the destructive choices he’s been making in his life since beginning his senior year in HS and that he continued following graduation.  He was seeking some wisdom with a strongly self-deprecating heart.  I’ve been through this cycle before with this student as many young men and women endure in our society… self-hate… repentance… renewed spiritual obligation…. attempt to win God’s favor with works… fail (of course)… say “screw it”… and go party hard for a few months (or years!) until things completely fall apart again (as they always do).

I prayed for him on the spot last night but didn’t get a chance to actually talk to him.  I sent him some messages and scripture this morning and made some offers to meet or call later today.  He’s convinced that everyone has written him off.  They may have, actually (except for God, naturally).  What he doesn’t know is that for months I pretended that he didn’t exist anymore and wrote him out of my own life.  I had assumed that I would never see or hear from him again and that my hands were “washed” of the situation.  Then God (via the Holy Spirit) put him back into my mind a few weeks ago and caused me to feel Love and Pain for him again.  That was way back before any of this other stuff happened (above)… and he’s been DAILY on my mind since then.  Was God preparing me for this day?  Maybe.  Maybe he was trying to get my attention with an example of who I am myself BEFORE I made the wrong choices in the subsequent weeks… which it seems I did anyway.

Other things have happened as well, many.

Don’t be fooled by the Plastic Jesus.  He comes along when you want to be right.  He comes along when you want to be angry.  He comes along when you want control.  He comes along when you cease to deliver submission.  He’s right there waiting when Mercy isn’t in your heart.  He is… the quickest way to alleviate yourself of God’s Grace and Mercy.  He is a powerful antidote to Love and Peace.

Is your Jesus made of Plastic?  Does he secretly approve of your racist thoughts?  How about your greedy thoughts?  How about that bank account that you hide from your wife?  Does he approve of that, because you know better than she does and God made you special like that?  Are you sure?  Are you sure Jesus agrees with your political views?  How about the way you thought about that incompetent guy in the drive-through, does Plastic Jesus approve of your condemnation?

We don’t make Jesus… we don’t define his morality or his character.  He made us.  We don’t know if he approves of our thoughts or desires… and if you’re unsure… he probably doesn’t.  His perspective is superior, always.  His picture is clear and unclouded and contains ALL the data… not just the tiny subset of information gathered by your meager human senses.  His stats aren’t skewed nor do they need a new way of adjusting for inflation (CPI).

Did you make a Plastic Jesus in order to have something to hold close to you?  So you could have a personal relationship with him?  Did he make you feel comfortable, safe and fulfilled?

The real true living God wants DESPERATELY to have a personal relationship with you.  Having a relationship with someone (God or not) does not mean that you get to decide WHO that someone is… that you get to decide what his characteristics are… that you agree with everything they think.

The definition of intimacy with another – in fact – is nearly the opposite.  That you Love them in spite of your differences and in spite of the misunderstandings and the incomplete information.  The only difference is that God’s knowledge of us is perfect and our knowledge of him is HIGHLY incomplete.  All the same, he wants that relationship with you.  So it’s up to you.

Throw away the Plastic Jesus.

Embrace the real living God.  Submit to his understanding, his will, his knowledge and his perspective.

Romans 12…

know his will… measure yourself by FAITH… Love others AUTHENTICALLY and without limits…

Isaiah 55:8-9

New Living Translation (NLT)

 8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

most of all – remember that Grace is free and plentiful and given to EVERYONE.  Grace is free to the corrupt social worker, free to the child abuser, given freely to the illegal alien, the criminal, the drug addict, the hater, the fake lover, the procrastinator.  There are no limits, not to you, not to me and not to anyone else.  I fully expect to see myself in Heaven next to the people I don’t like.  I pray by the time I get there that Jesus has taught me to Love them the same way he Loves me… without ceasing… without hesitation!

Thank you God for always pursuing me.  Please take away my plastic toys!

-Chris

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