My friend Julie, and Professor Dallas Willard have me thinking about the Jesus we may have created in our minds - as opposed to the Christ of the Scriptures.
After a bit of thought, and based on my recent reading and reflection on this book, I think we church people might have created a caricature Jesus, as in Jesus the Happy Magic Clown.
Not the real thing, but a funny looking shell of the genuine article. Stripped of Divinity, and simplified by our culture. New and improved. Now with Sin Whacking Bleach - you can have the whitest whites ever! Just believe, and He makes everything better!
My college chum Julie has illustrated better than I ever could the way the church does not own up to its shortcomings in this article about the Ted Haggard tragedy. And then, reading Dallas Willard's latest book, I was struck by this question:
"How many churches do you know that actually have a plan in place to teach people to do everything Jesus said?" How about THAT?
So, we are left with Clown Jesus, a sad American version of the real thing. He does what we need, when we need it, for as long as we need it, and then, stays out of the way. Just like a rented birthday party clown, when his tricks are over, he will sit quietly in the corner eating cake.
He can forgive us of our sins, just like that! But inside his heart, he would like to show us more, much more. He wants to give us an abundant life, truly. What would happen if we gave him the darker parts of our lives, our money, or maybe even our anger. But we did not rent him for those other things, just the animal party balloons and general sin forgiveness. No financial lordship, no anger management.
And so, Jesus the Happy Magic Clown sits quietly, out of the way, waiting. What he really wants is for us to remove his costume, the wild wig, and the rubber nose, and see him for what is really is. Fully human, yet fully Devine. A mystery. Partner in Creation. The Atonement. Good Shepard. Yahweh.
No wonder it feels easier to keep the costume on him.