“…and you don’t have to give up pork rinds…John 14:6
My wife and I are part of something called the Simultania Project. Erin Cooney, a visual artist, asked online for people to shoot a minute’s worth of video at exactly the same moment in time, one of her choosing. Over a thousand people responded – one of them was my son. He received notice that he made the latest cut. I think they’re trying to get down to 300 or so. Then each video will be incorporated into a three-sided wall of video screens simultaneously playing each clip. Ms Cooney currently negotiates with the Museum of Modern Art in New York to put “Simultania” on permanent display.
So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that my son videoed my wife and I painting the new nursery for twin granddaughters then on the way. We might be on permanent display at MOMA (The art snob’s way talking about the museum.)! The downer? As this thing loops continually, we will never finish painting that nursery, working at it non stop until a comet takes out NYC and MOMA.
Jesus wouldn’t fit well in “Simultania”, one among three hundred otherwise equal and ordinary lives and moments. He’s not just another Ritz cracker in the box, not just another good guy, guru or teacher. He says stuff like “…no man comes to the father but by me.” (John 14:6) If you or I say something like this about ourselves, people shake their heads, reach for the phone and the police intervene by taking us to a mental health unit. When He said it about Himself, the crowds crucified Him the next day. When His followers say what He said, they’re “exclusive” or “intolerant”.
Well, if so, we’re not the only ones. All religions are exclusive. They all deal with the same things. This is what lies beyond the material world we all can see. This is what or who God is, if there is one. This is how to approach, please or appease Him (or them, or it). This is what happens when you die. All of them say, in essence, “THIS IS THE WAY IT IS.” No elastic or wiggle room here. Only a rather elitist superimposed agenda or a well-intentioned, yet naive, ignorance tries to say that all religions say basically the same thing. They don’t…not even close.
A blimp ride over human history and daily life shows that for all our learning and accomplishments, we (You, me and every person who ever lived or will) still are the problem. Read any history book or today’s newspaper. Something lies broken at the heart of humanity in general and me in particular. And more learning, an increase in technology or a twelve step group can’t straighten it out. Which religion talks about this? More important, who DOES anything about it? Besides Jesus, none. A German guy named Jurgen Moltmann called Jesus “The Crucified God.” This is exactly why Jesus Christ stands as a side dish instead of a main course for our spiritual palates. We want all the benefits of spirituality while keeping our self-centeredness (sin) intact and in control. Christians try this too, taking the Jesus of the Gospels and making Him over like Mr. Potato Head (great toy, bad theological method) and bending Him into the shape of something we’re used to and can control.
“…no man can come to the Father but by me.” Not only is this not exclusive, it’s an incredibly generous undeserved offer; God Himself throws us a rope – not only to escape what we’re doing to ourselves but to clean us up soul deep and launch us into a life we cannot imagine. And we get a love relationship with Jesus Christ. Exclusive? “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” All. If all can come, what do they have to do? Nothing. No restrictions or requirements. We don’t have to try harder, be good, become a vegan, wear unusual clothes or robes (Some of us already do this), learn a dead language to read ancient books, give up pork rinds, juggle live monkeys, face Toledo, Ohio, eight times a day while screaming “Booyah!”, perform the Chicken Dance in Kmart, “put your right foot in, put your right foot out…do the hokey pokey and…” Never mind the rest. We get it.
Jesus – not just another face on a screen among three hundred, not just another Cheeto in the bag. But One Who not only made claims that only God could pull off but died on the cross where He absorbed all the sin and penalty built up by the human race. And then rose from the dead. How can we know this is true? A good question but there’s a better, more important one. How badly do I want to find out? “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Mary Poplin, a college professor, relates that her beginning with Jesus came when she simply said, “If you’re real, come get me.” This great offer from Jesus isn’t for nibblers but for plungers. We might just get “gotten.” The real tragedy comes in missing a great free offer, good for any and everybody, while we’re screaming “Booyah” at Toledo, juggling live monkeys or some other idle and wasteful pastime designed to numb us from feeling our own self-inflicted heartaches.
Prayer Point – Yes, its’ a dry summer but don’t let our prayer life get all wrapped up and swallowed by all our stuff. People around us scream “Booyah” at Toledo or howl at the moon while missing a honking good offer from Jesus Christ. Hunker down on them in prayer until they want what only He can give so badly they melt into his mercy.
Action point – Chances are really good that some of the people in the prayer point will be watching us, maybe very closely. Let’s remember that and walk it, okay?
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Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.