29 January 2009

Thursday Thoughts: No More Magic Jesus

In reading and thinking about the texts this week, I've been struck off and on by the thought that the last thing Jesus wanted to be was a magician. Unfortunately, we seem to really prefer him in that role: one wave of the magic prayer wand (or one turn of the "Answer me Jesus," I guess) and you get whatever it is you want or need. If you don't get it, of course, "God has something better in store for you."

We would do ourselves a heap of good if we could get past this faulty picture of God. Maybe all the time we've spent in Job this year has colored how I'm looking at things, but it seems obvious to me that in creation God has chosen to act with a certain amount of restraint, in order that the whole creation might be free to interact with itself. Sometimes those interactions have adverse consequences, and maybe that's the frustration we have: on the one hand, God promises great love and desire for the well-being of humanity, but on the other hand, cancer fucking sucks, and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere just yet. That's just one example.

The reason this comes to mind is the man possessed by demons in this week's Mark passage. How do these things happen in a world where God is love? But they do. Worse, even though Jesus stays in Capernaum for a while and heals a lot of people, he eventually moves on - and you know that the day after he moved on, someone else got sick, or fell under the power of demonic forces, and those people didn't get healed.

What does this mean? I'm not sure yet. What I'm sure is that Rowan Atkinson's performance below, while really, really funny, is unfortunately a pretty good example of the false picture we have of Jesus - and I'm terrified that I'm going to paint the same kind of picture if I'm not careful.


  1. I actually have one of those pepto bismol pink Jesus's. It was a gift to each of us from a member of my accountability group. It is a playful reminder to us of everything our Lord IS NOT.

    One of our colleagues has taken to calling our AG the SPJ's - society of pink Jesus, but when others ask about the moniker, we say that we are the Society of Perfected Jesuits.

    Keep 'em wondering!

    God bless your day+

  2. wonderful reflection. that was the first time i've seen "answer me jesus" yikes!

  3. "God has something better in store for me" and "When God closes a door, He opens a window" are the two phrases that make me want to punch people. I enjoyed reading your reflections!

  4. Julie: couldn't agree more.

    Also, the praise song "Trading My Sorrows" should be banned from the church forever. Sometimes following God means living with sorrows and pain - DUH!