bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Worship Jesus? (part 5)

This is the final installment to this topic. I’d like to keep it short and sweet, but, alas, I don’t know how. It is the most difficult piece to the puzzle. If I do this correctly and have laid the groundwork correctly then you should start to sense the “ah-ha” moment about paragraph 6. Here we go…

In part 3 of this series I did a compare/contrast of Satan (evil imagery) with Jesus (holy imagery). I discussed evil icons and analogs as masculine and dark. I contrasted that imagery with contemporary holy icons and analogs as feminine and impotent. You may not have seen eye to eye with me on some of it, but it didn’t rankle you. If I want to appreciate skulls and snakes and tattoos of snakey skulls and t-shirts with foul-mouthed slogans you’ll let me slide. You might not condone my tastes or appreciate the finer points of “biker etiquette” but you’re not gonna get your panties in a wad over it.

I've discovered that even the most chaste and religiously devout of our Christian ranks quietly enjoy the guilty pleasures of reality TV on a scale that I will never be able to understand. I bet you $100 that every church going (CG) Christian you know devotes at least a couple hours a week watching shows that spend half their time bleeping out expletives. It’s all good. I don’t like those shows, but I don’t begrudge you for watching them. My wife, who cringes every time I drop a “shit, damn, or hell” near her, watches some of the sleaziest reality TV you can imagine. We are a hopeless pairing.

In part 4, I took a stab at your theology. Now you’re getting uncomfortable. Now you’re getting angry. Now you’re thinking, “this guy is an idiot whose caught up with all the other idiots suggesting that you do not have to be a god-fearing, circumcised, bible-toting Christian to enter the pearly gates.” Part 4 was WAY too long, but it’s a complicated subject matter—whatcha gonna do? You don’t take a run at dissecting theology that has been hardwired into people’s spiritual DNA without getting wordy about it.

The reason you felt much more inflexible and agitated about the discussion in part 4 than about the topic in part 3 is because you deem your theology sacred, holy, and succinct. HOLY means dedicated or set apart. SACRED means regarded with religious veneration, worship, and respect. SUCCINCT means expressed with brevity and clarity, with no wasted words. I am never succinct.

The reason you felt less agitated by part 3 is because it didn’t mess with your theology. It was just the ramblings of a dude on the internet that is probably over-compensating for some defect in his masculinity. That and the fact that you expect that what goes on out here “in the world” is going to be loose and void of formality. You anticipate that the “lost ones” of the world aren’t going to value the same things you do. You’re expectations of them are minimal at best. You are comfortable with the separation you feel from them. It is part of being HOLY and SACRED.

Because we mentally image Jesus as a singular person—because we psychologically define “church” as a building—because we stand vigilant guard over the fragile theologies we’ve pieced together—because we ignore the opinions of “outsiders”—because we allow all hell to break loose in the lives of those around us as long as OUR values aren’t in jeopardy—because of these things we have diminished God to the role of a cranky isolated old man screaming at kids to stay off his lawn.

All the while we’ve surrendered all things that we do not considered HOLY, SACRED, and RIGHTEOUS to “the other side.” Meaning that we expect bad things, unsavory attitudes, and questionable ethics any time we’re not in that building or worshiping that person or reading from that text. Don’t you see? We’ve become captives of our sense of sacredness, holiness, and righteousness.

Jesus (the person) didn’t party with hookers, IRS agents, AIDS patients, and criminals with a disapproving scowl on his face. He (the person) spent time with them as you would at a family reunion. He (the person) listened to their stories, laughed at their jokes, and played with their kids. Jesus (the person) wasn’t HOLY or SACRED. Jesus (the person) rebuked those that considered themselves HOLY and SACRED. Jesus (the person) told funny jokes, walked hand in hand with prostitutes, and was genuinely moved by people’s stories of tragedy in their life. Jesus (the person) was UNHOLY (not set apart) and UNSACRED (unworshipable).

Jesus (the virtues—the cause—the Son of Man) is entirely HOLY and SACRED. This is the meaning of an individual being both fully God and fully Man at the same time. The challenge is that WE aren’t simply being called to be “Christ followers.” We are being called to be JESUS. We’re not being called to save anyone…that part's been done. But we are being called to serve one another. To serve denotes humility and bestows honor even if it hasn’t been earned. To serve is to treat the OTHER person as if THEY are HOLY and SACRED. We treat them that way regardless of their beliefs because we are Jesus—not because Jesus (the person) would want us to but because WE ARE JESUS (the virtues).

So you can disrespect me all you want for the alcohol that I drink, expletives that I fling, theology that I mock, and ink that I bear but you need to understand something about that moment in time—you will have to answer for it. When you set yourself, your beliefs, and your actions apart and adorn your t-shirt with the word REDEEMED across the chest you are not representing Jesus. In that moment, you are representing yourself.

So mock us all you want. Shout us down. Quote scripture AT us. Pray for us to change our “wicked ways.” We appreciate your concern and we will indulge your ignorance. But at the end of the day, I can walk into that biker bar feeling right at home with my vulgar t-shirt and my tats and my fixed blade knife attached to my hip in all my UNHOLY UNSACRED glory and partner with the people I meet there—you cannot. I know their language. I know their customs. I value their beliefs. They can smell a phony a mile away. You are not welcome. Don’t even try.

But many of us in that bar have hearts that are HOLY and SACRED even if you can’t see it on the surface. We readily admit that we don’t understand all the inner workings of God and the complexities of the Bible. However, we do know that there is a God and that He/She loves us deeply enough to saddle right on up to the bar here with us and buy a round of drinks for everyone.

Say what you will about protecting your faith through the judicious management of your outward appearance and actions. Jesus (the person) said that it’s the heart of the lesbian, biker, criminal, pro-choicer, Buddhist, atheist, Muslim that matters. Guess what—Jesus (the virtue) loves them all.

Why not worship Jesus (the person)? Because he isn’t worthy of praise. Worship Jesus (the virtue). Worship THAT Jesus through the service of others—not in a pew singing old tired washed up songs at a wooden idol on the wall. It’s the heart of Jesus that matters and it’s the heart of us all that must carry THAT Jesus into the world with great honor, vigor, and resilience.

"Hi, my name is Bonar and I'm a heretic."