The Jesus Box

In the immortal wisdom of Adam Ant; “Don’t drink, don’t smoke.”

One doesn’t have to look to far to see that it appears Mr. Ant should probably have had a gospel of his own according to todays conventional church. Most of these very maculate conceptions revolve around your friend and mine, our old pal Jesus.

Yeah I can literally hear some of you bristling at me mentioning the Lord and Savior so convivially. Make no mistake, I’m not being sarcastic. I really do think Jesus would be a pretty cool dude to hang around with. Maybe watch wrestling, order a pizza, toss back a few crappy macro-beers (Because pizza is the only thing that could make something like Black Label palatable), then play Soul Caliber on the Xbox until early morning so we can go into work the next day looking like we combed our hair with our pillow.

One of the big problems facing the modern church is the Jesus Box. Whenever we think of Jesus, we think of a brown-hair, blue-eyed, strangely James Caviezel guy bleeding and in the throes of death. Or, in our less somber moments, the stern, wise, calm lecturer on good table manners and sex without touching. In either case, there is no room in the Jesus Box for happiness, laughter, jokes, goofing off, or anything possibly enjoyable. No room for sarcastic wit, no room for plucky comebacks, no room for cajoling or carousing. No room for everything you’ve ever seen friendships portrayed as save for sitting on a deck swing whittling.

And let’s not get into the dancing, drinking and smoking…

Those are the big evils, you know. Each has their own circle of hell Dante forgot about. If you drink, or smoke or in some cases even dance, you’re beyond redemption. You’re a pariah of contemptible behavior, a bad example, and you shouldn’t be allowed around children.

Of course, someone we know had the same things said about him:

Matthew 11
17 ” ‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.”

Let’s face it, there’s no room in the Jesus Box for Jesus himself.
The modern day, conventional church is so caught up in 3 piece suit Sunday, bake-in, don’t slurp your soup conservatism that they forgot that Jesus knew very well how to enjoy himself. Now don’t get me wrong. If you like wearing a Sunday suit… if you like bake sales and quiet dinners and reserved company with clean cut language and short hair, hey, that’s your game. Enjoy it. Rock on.

But don’t try to stuff Jesus into that box.

While your lifestyle may be clean and enviable, and even enjoyable, it does not mean that those who don’t ascribe to it are wrong. It does not mean that those who like a good beer, or a few glasses of wine among friends are drunkards and layabouts with no responsibility. It does not mean that those who like a good, fat cigar or thoughtful puffing on a pipe or even *gasp* a cigarette now and then are out to kill everyone in the world with their sinful ways. It does not mean that those who dance and let their bodies rock with the same rhythm their heart feels are out to impregnate half the planet like Wilt Chamberlain tag teaming with Shawn Kemp.

It means your lifestyle is your own, and Jesus, when he was in that mood, agreed with you. Jesus also, when he was in the mood, sat in on some of the most raucous parties of the ancient day. Figure back then, the gentiles were a pretty seedy lot. Their parties were probably a bit over the top by our standards. Does this mean Jesus was tokin blunts with his homies while filming porn? Ehhhhh, no. But he probably witnessed quite a bit of the seedy underbelly of society, and to whit, probably enjoyed a number of laughs with these “horrible people”.

The Jesus Box is easy. Everything is nice and tidy, packed into a convenient cube for us to carry with us and open when needed for our dose of prayer. The rules are simple and straightforward, and of course, divine. If it doesn’t fit in the box, toss it out. Easy.

But people are messy. We’re all over the map emotionally and culturally. We bring each other into frightening and uncomfortable moments, and we don’t always make each other feel good. We don’t fit into a box. We don’t fit into our own skins very well for that matter. Reaching out to touch another being is risky, and you never know if they will purr or bite.

And there you have why Jesus was who he was. He was willing to look at not just the sin, but the culture of the gentile… to bring to them the news. He was willing to hang with the “bad kids” and reach out and make the connections to his people. Jesus knew how to party, and most of all knew how to love.

For some, brick and mortar and the church choir is what they need. For others, someone like them, who understands them. Jesus was a rare one who could be in either place. We don’t have to be, but we shouldn’t try to stuff Jesus into just our particular box.

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