>You know what I hate? I hate that we have turned Jesus into a homeboy; an image plastered onto a shirt and sold at a shoe store. I hate that the majority of crosses that hang around necks serve no significant purpose. To some it is a symbol of “luck” – whatever that is – and to some it is the gift that their grandmother gave them. I hate that Jesus is a Sunday-morning-brunch-talk Jesus to most. But, more than anything, the distaste reaches its peak in the fact that we are okay with these things.
I would rather speak on behalf of American’s in stating that we have grown completely accustomed to these images and these mottos regarding Jesus. So much so, that we have missed the overall picture two quotes ago. To be blatantly honest, I fall into this category so often. I felt my conviction one night in church with a guest speaker who spate out the words “Why are we always looking for the next best sermon, the next best worship band and the next best conference to attend?” I left asking myself those questions, because that’s me. Now with Easter here and the reality of it all making its appearance, I sat in a Good Friday service at church, dressed in black and putting my best somber face on, all per the request of Pastor James. Quite different this all was, as most years prior my Good Friday’s were spent, well, not acknowledging it was indeed Good Friday.
So, somberly I sat and service began. I had a good time in worship, thought the bits of acting that came through were done very well and, gosh, we had really awesome worship leaders. Golden voices. Just as I thought it was a wrap, the last act was up and it came to the part where Jesus was to be crucified. On pops this video of this man’s backside, only showing his right shoulder, badly beaten with flesh torn and mangled tissue so vivid that I felt sick. The gashes on His body were minute compared to the sound of His breathing; it was so faint and so fatal. This was Jesus dying. This was the reality of His crucifixion. It wasn’t a picture above a mantle or a universal symbol for Christianity, it was reality for the first time to me. I sat there, silently crying because it felt like I finally reached the end of this enigma I had traced through for so long. The only thing that kept going through my head was “That’s my Lover.” and that’s all I kept telling myself. I heard his faint breaths and knew He was dying for me. And I know, I know this sounds so repetitive to some, but for me it was my basement light clicking on. I know I will never fully understand it, but it felt like a gust of wind to finally have a taste to understand what He did for me, for us, just so I could have a second chance at all of this. I grabbed the wooden cross that hangs on my neck and it felt so different for the first time.
And now I sit in bed with all of these images of what we have made Jesus out to be. How we’ve turned this tragic, yet beautiful deed into a marketing campaign. All He wanted to do was show us how much He loves us and we take it and turn it into a market place. We all know what Jesus thinks about that (“My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers'” Matthew 21:13) and I don’t want to be okay with this. In discovering a sacrifice that is real and has weight, we have to refuse to turn it around to glorify us. What He did for us could hold not even a million price tags, and even if they did, they would all have names written on them. You, me and everyone else.
I guess the question is what do I do from here? I cannot physically stop the unconscious believer from wearing their WWJD bracelet while flipping me off. I think I would rather take this as a challenge to myself, even when I want to flip the tables like Jesus. In due time, though, in due time. Overall, I truly am grateful now… the cross around my neck feels heavier with meaning.