Yesterday I found a CD which I thought I lost in August. Over the summer, I enjoyed this CD since. This guy had been the artist who came and provided the music for a summer camp for counseled for Youth for Christ. I had a personal connection with some of the songs. But now, one of the songs is no doubt the #1 song going into this new year.
If you stuck through that introduction, you probably want to know who this artist is, which of his CD’s and what song I love. Well, the song is “Thrift Store Jesus” by Heath McNease. It is the cover song for his album, Thrift Store Jesus (http://heathmcnease.bandcamp.com/track/thrift-store-jesus).
This song is one of the two most theologically sticking moments of 2012 for me. The other moment is when the Hulk slams Loki around and then says “puny god,” but I will get to that moment in a little bit.
“Thrift Store Jesus” leaves the listener in an uncomfortable position. This uncomfortable position could is a frustration with how Jesus is most commonly portrayed. “Isn’t it kind of racist that they anglicize the faces and ignore the basic demographics based on his location.” Yet, Heath takes his song to to an unpleasant place. He forces the listener really consider Jesus beyond facial features and hair color. There is such a subjective nature in which a lot of people view Jesus, and it has little to do with how much they do or do not love Him. In the end of the song though, he takes the discomfort of how much our own portrayal of Jesus is so much like this horrible painting which was bought at a Goodwill (“He looks like Richard Marx, but kinda hood still”) and turns it towards the comfort that Jesus still meets us where we are at. Christ comes and transforms our lives despite our often distorted view of Him. (For Heath’s own explanation watch http://vimeo.com/37660396)
There is great comfort that God can still work in my life even when my theology gets off kilter. This means that God can work inside of churches in every denomination. As a seminarian who is very concerned with proper theology and right understanding of Scripture, this helps me realize that the work being done is being done by God. He is sovereign and capable enough to overcome a believer’s misunderstanding. So, as a future pastor, I will not have to spend all of my time putting out brush fires. Rather, I can spend time focusing on the major issues of the church and pastoral care.
Now, do not take me the wrong way. I believe it matters very much how one views God, especially how they view Him in light the Incarnation of Christ (few will realize that I had to go over 2 or 3 heresies which were shot down between the 2nd and 6th centuries relating to the deity of Christ, just so I could say that the last sentence was not a heresy).
The importance of a proper view of God is underscored by the clip from the Avengers. See, so often we make God into something which is definitely NOT who He is. When we make Him into anything less than Himself, we can pull a Hulk and pulverize him (http://youtu.be/SdH8_MIIEpQ). Or, we can make Him into something incapable of answering our prayers. Or maybe we can make Him into something that doesn’t want to answer our prayers. Or, we can make Him into someone just like you or me.
God revealed Himself to humanity though. We do not need to conform Him to our image. Humanity is made in His image (Gen. 1:27-28; 9:6). He shows us what it means to be made in His image by giving us the example of Jesus Christ, and we are to be conforming to how God specifically came to humanity (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 2:5; 1 John 3:1-3).
So, why did I just ramble on about these things for the past couple hundred words? I am going to be teaching seven lessons to a group of elementary school kids at an AWANA about the seven sign miracles of Christ recorded in the Gospel of John. Jesus Christ demonstrated who God is and how we ought to view Him. He also explains how we ought to respond in light of those truths.
As I study how He revealed Himself, I am forced to think about my own view of Jesus. Is He just a picture of me with a few alterations? Or, is He the perfect, eternal, loving Son of God and Son of Man who transcends trite explanations and descriptions? Is my picture of Jesus accurate? If not, will I allow myself to let go of that view and conform it to the truth?
Also, am I so wrapped up in “the truth” that Jesus becomes just a myth and not the incarnate, personal, and present Messiah? Will I over complicate this faith and make it into a foreign systematic cage to place my god-man?
Pray with me that my study of the Gospel of John will be fruitful and life changing. Also, join with me in trying to break out of a “Thrift Store Jesus” picture, and into the picture of how He decided to reveal Himself.
Happy New Year. Enjoy 2013.