Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jesus - Not Just a Drywall Hanger

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus is not just the name of every other Hispanic drywaller or painter or concrete specialist. In fact, it would seem that it's only accepted by some cultures to name their children after the most significant religious figure in history. Sure, there are a few Abrahams and Muhammads. Odd how no one seems to name their kid Buddha. Or Tao. Hmm. Go figure.

At any rate, I heard a sermon last weekend that got me on the ever-dangerous path of thinking - not one of my strong points. The gist of it was that everyone seems to have a different notion of who Jesus is to them. To some, he is merely the drywall installer. To others, the painter, or gardener, or pool boy. Still to others, he is merely a profanity. Or a fictional character. Or a great teacher. Or a prophet. Or a little baby in a manger with sheep and a mule and wise guys and shepherds. In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby liked praying to the sweet little tiny infant Jesus just lying there in a manger; Cal Naughton, Jr. preferred to think of his Jesus as wearing one of those tuxedo shirts that says I'm formal, but I'm here to party and playing lead guitar at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Mrs. Bobby steps in and says she thinks you're supposed to pray to the grown-up Jesus.

To many a televangelist, Jesus is a cash-cow. To some, Jesus is nominally involved in that winter holiday around which retailers gauge consumer confidence. To public schools and government, Jesus doesn't exist at all. Nor does God. Allah is ok, as long as he isn't blowing stuff up.

I could continue, but I ask you: who is Jesus? Who is He, really? Beyond what you think you know, beyond what you were told by your grandma as a kid, and past the guy who's middle initial, contrary to popular belief, is NOT "H"? For the record, it doesn't begin with F or PH either.

The Bible says Jesus is the Son of God, in whom He is well pleased. It says He is the once and final propitiation for our sins (past, present, and future). It says He is our brother, high priest, counselor, and friend. It says He is our intermediary before a completely holy, omnipotent, omniscient God. Did you know that He is called the Lamb of God because God provided Him as the final blood sacrifice? Did you know that prior to Jesus' death and resurrection, Jewish priests had to sacrifice an unblemished, perfect lamb for the temporary forgiveness of sin? Did you know that God first implemented a blood sacrifice (the shedding of blood) as a result of sin when He made clothes for Adam and Eve after they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (note, not the same as the Tree of Life, and not an apple tree)? Did you know that Jesus is as alive and relevant today as He was 2000 years ago? Did you know that He longs for a relationship with you? Not religion. I could be religious about playing golf every Sunday (and soon "lose my religion" because of my chronic bad habits). He wants you to know Him, as He already knows you. Did you know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made and before He formed you in the womb, He knew you?

Put aside whatever impressions you may have of Him. He wasn't white, or Asian, or black. He wasn't walking around with a halo and aura as depicted in Renaissance art. He was just like you or me among His peers and contemporaries. If He was a stand-out in a crowd, Judas would not have had to betray Him with a kiss for the guards to know who to arrest. He wasn't as the native New Zealanders portray him with body art on his face. Although, He was. He is exactly who you need, when you need Him, whether you know it or not. And He's waiting for you to invite Him into your life.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomever believes in Him shall not die, but have eternal life. For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn it, but that through Him, the world (people) would be saved. John 3:16-17

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