What are you going to do when Jesus doesn’t play by the rules . . . when he doesn’t behave like a good son of God should? Well, the safest thing to do is to reshape Jesus into our image. It’s not all that hard to do. In spite of the Bible remaining a top-seller, it really isn’t read that much; and most people who read it just surface read. So to reshape Jesus you need merely to pick and choose your Jesus stories so that they all go together. When you have Jesus fashioned as you would like him to be, go forth and proclaim your jesus. Do it with gusto and with the sound of authority in your voice. Quote Scripture and pound the pulpit. If you don’t have a pulpit any surface will do, including the hard heads of persons who just can’t see your jesus. Do it long enough and others will believe. Even more astounding is that if you do it long enough you will come to believe in the jesus you created. Wow! You’ve become god. (Isn’t there a story about that in the first book of the Bible? It seems I recall those who wanted to be gods unto themselves didn’t fare well in the end. Never mind, you can skip that part of the Bible.)
When I was a child I had this toy that made music. There was a crank you turned. If you got your speed just right the music sounded really nice. I liked the little music box . . . except that periodically as you turned the crank, the lid would fly open and up would pop Jack. Turn the crank slower or faster or just right, it didn’t matter. Jack always escaped the box.
Go ahead and reshape Jesus so that he loves you particularly and hates all the things (and people) you hate. Shape a Jesus who will draw tight, wide-bordered circles that define who is in and who is out. Shape Jesus so that he always loves your friends and hates your enemies. Go ahead . . . but beware, like Jack-in-the-Box, the real Jesus will always pop up, always escape the box.
The church has been shaping and reshaping Jesus for a long, long time. We have a problem, Houston—Eminence, Louisville, Starkville, St. Louis, Chicago, etc. We can reshape Jesus. We can stick him in a box. We can so define him that he is found only in our brand of church. We can do all of this . . . .
. . . all of this and it will be to no avail. Jesus arose! Remember that little story? He arose a victor o’er the dark domain. He arose a victor over each person who tries to kill him again by reshaping him in his/her image. The music is playing and the real Jesus will pop up!
He popped up outside a Samaritan village at well being visited by a five-time divorced woman who was then living with another man without benefit of clergy! A reshaped jesus would have turned away. At the very least he would have run her off. Instead, he shared a dipper of water with the woman. His dry tongue’s thirst was quenched. The dryness of her soul was drenched.
I’m tempted to reshape Jesus into a more manageable Lord of my own image. I’m tempted; but, instead, I’m going to keep looking for this Jesus who shattered the proper image and shared a dipper of water with a woman others defined as unworthy. I’m thirsty. I don’t need my Jesus. I need JESUS!