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Makeshift Jesus

Update: I’m not a homeless gypsy anymore! That said, I had to post this picture because it just went too perfectly with last week’s Gypsy Living part 2. I stumbled across this gem in central Austin this past week. I love being back, being moved in and gearing up for the school year.

The other day my principal asked me to be brainstorming about ideas of what to teach the Jr. High girls in Bible study time. Wow! What a question. Think for a second, what you would suggest to teach 12-14 year old girls? I mean, where do you even begin answering that?

If you’re anything like me you may have just tried to reach back into the forbidden files of the “dark years” to try to remember what you wish you would have known back then. Like, if only I would have known that there is such a thing as too much blue eyeliner, too much Abercrombie 8, and too many graphic tee’s. And all the 80s-90s ladies said, amen!

But seriously, the things that come to mind– friends, dating going out, body image, identity, insecurity, comparison, stress and anxiety, BSB vs. *Nsync– they can all be redeemed by an accurate view of who Jesus is, and consequently, who we are. A.W. Tozer said, “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Well, if that’s true, I suppose it’s pretty important that we have an accurate view of who God is.

In Matthew 16:13-17, Jesus is talking with Peter and the boys when he asks, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “you are the Christ, Son of the Living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.”

The consensus was that the people thought that Jesus was a prophet or a teacher instead of the promised messiah and Lord. That’s a big difference right there!

Teacher vs. Lord.

 However, if he was just a teacher, then that would imply that everything he taught was more or less suggestion. And let me just say, having taught, everybody takes everything as a suggestion: turn in your homework, stop talking, don’t do that…. Apparently, they are just suggestions. Can you see the problem with this? If I view Jesus’ teachings as considerable options, then that would put them in the pool along with the suggestions of my friends, my school, my surroundings, my culture etc.. Eventually,  I’ll just ‘weigh my options’ to see which one I like best. Sweet Heaven, you know that is a recipe for catastrophe!

Oh, but we do it. I do it.

It’s much more convenient to follow a Jesus who politely makes suggestions rather than one who authoritatively gives commands. Suggestions give us room to wiggle and ultimately do what we want to do.

Here’s the deal though, that Jesus— the ‘just a teacher, nice suggestions, I’ll keep that as an option if it’s convenient today’—that Jesus isn’t real; that is a Jesus that you’ve, I’ve, we’ve created ourselves, sisters. And you know good and well that will get real messy real quick.   (If you’d like to hear a fabulous sermon that goes into further detail about this, click here: http://austinstone.org/sermons/frontpage/2  and find “Worshipping a Jesus of Your Own Making”)

Let’s do a self-check. Here are some ways we can slide into worshiping a makeshift Jesus:

Vending Machine: “put in my money, place my order, get what I want”. Ever feel like if you do X,Y,Z God is required to give you what you want? But if you pay $1.00 for the Honey Buns and you get Flaming Hot Cheetos instead, you’re ready to fight somebody. Been there? Maybe you feel entitled to get what you want because if you do what you’re supposed to do, go to church and read your bible, then God owes you… That is a Vending Machine Jesus, girlfriend. It doesn’t work like that.

Medicine Cabinet: “As needed”. Do you find yourself only praying when something bad is going on? Or you only really pay attention to God when you need something? Just like Tylenol, right? You don’t take it everyday, just when you have a headache. Oh yeah, that’s the medicine cabinet Jesus.

The Holy Hobby: “Garden club, yoga, and church”. Do you find yourself compartmentalizing your church life just like you would any other activity? Mondays: supper club, Thursdays: garden club, Sundays: church. When you’re at supper club, you are the top chef, baby; when you’re at cycling club, you’re livin’ strong; when you’re at church, hallelujah and amen, honey! And until next week…. That would be approaching Jesus as if he is a holy hobby.

Guilty? I know I am. So, what does it look like to view, approach and kneel before Jesus as “the Christ, Son of the Living God”? And how would a correct view of Jesus as Lord directly affect those topics that I’m still trying to sort through total Jr. High topics that I now have completely figured out?

 Think about it. Pray about it. Come back for a follow up next week.

 “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer

 Here’s to laughin’,

 Sarah

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