Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Slippery Jesus?

I was reading through the news a couple days ago and came across a link that said, “Warning Contains Graphic images,” which made me want to look at it even more. The first picture I saw is what you see above and I’ll admit it caught me a little off guard. I didn’t think that would make think about Jesus, but I think I’m enthused by little things generally. Below is an exert from this article, you should read the whole thing for yourself though.

Each year, health authorities warn devoted Buddhists that “Ma Song,” the ritualistic self-infliction of pain, could cause HIV/AIDS and hepatitis infections. And every year, adherents walk barefoot over smoldering coals, climb ladders with rungs made of knife blades and bathe in hot oil—all in pursuit of spiritual trance which will earn good luck for themselves and their neighbors.
When God, you know the I Am God, the one who split the Red Sea, provided water from a rock, burned up a wet bull on a mountain top, travel by fire and cloud, that God, well, when He originally revealed Himself to Abraham it was completely new, completely revolutionary. At the time God did reveal Himself to Abraham there were other religions and false gods all around. There were tons of practices and things that looked a little like this:
We need rain, so we will dance, then maybe that will please God. If it rains then that must mean the dancing worked, but if it doesn’t then we better try something else. Maybe if we offer God our bodies and cut ourselves, what about our children’s lives, as long as we keep doing things then we eventually will be able to please God.

The problem with that system is that it is like trying to figure out a menstrual woman. We can’t figure out all her emotions and dare not try (this is good advice for any man). God is not this unstable emotional person though. God is not like all these false gods and does not want nor does he require us to guess what He wants. God did something revolutionary by telling Abraham who he was and revealing Himself to Him directly. He then calls Him out of this cultural context of false gods and guess religion into something brand new. God then reveals Himself even further through the 10 commandments. He further reveals Himself and His standards in the book of Leviticus (one of the greatest books I’ve studied honestly). Then there is this long time of the alter and temple worship system set in place by God all in a very precise way of revealing Himself to man so we don’t have to run around doing silly things guessing at who He is and how to please him.

God didn’t just stop there though. He left a big hole in the temple system, He left the loop hole and reality that it always requires more and is never ending. Why? Not because He is clumsy, but because He wanted to draw attention to the definitive way He would reveal Himself. In the ultimate act of revelation God send His son, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus immediately begins referring to Himself as the temple and says crazy things along the lines of, it’s not about mere actions it’s about the heart. Jesus didn’t want the sacrifice of the temple, He wants sacrifice of life. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves and live with Him. If we know Jesus and seek to live in Him then He is in us and no longer do we have to chase temple rituals. Jesus tore the temple in half when He died. The temple is no longer around, we are it. So we don’t have to wonder what God is like, what He wants, how He does things, or His general character. He has revealed it all to us through creation and through His Word (the Bible).

I’m saddened by stories like the one above-mentioned, by people doing crazy things on a whimsical chance that they might get some luck from a distant and foreign god or religion. May you know this Jesus and not chase rituals that only call for more and more and more. Jesus revealed Himself and promises to fill us up and the Spirit will let us know exactly what He wants. My God is not one manipulated by cutting oneself or dancing, but in control and all powerful. May you know this God and His son Jesus, the Christ. Jesus is not a slippery Jesus, he isn’t evasive and hard to grasp, He puts it all out there for us to see, we just need to have faith and follow, stumble, and learn.

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