“The ‘My Grandma’s Jesus’ Zone” (Dialogue Revealed)

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post, so just to “set the stage” a bit…

This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The ‘My Grandma’s Jesus’ Zone. The place is here. The time is now. And the journey into the shadows we’re about to watch could be our journey.

Panel One, Upper Left: This is Chuck Abbott, American entrepreneur and coffee drinker. He enjoys musing about days gone by and comparing everything to a business deal. For him, Jesus left and never came back. Jesus had been a salesman, perhaps the greatest salesman ever, standing at the “Deliveries Only” door and knocking, always knocking. But Americans treated Him like a customer and wanted to sell Him something instead.

Panel Two, Upper Right: The scene fades to a nearby beach and two young lovers, Kent and his best girl. They are engrossed in each other, as we would expect. For them, Jesus is like Santa Claus. She may as well say, “Oh, Kent! What would Santa say? Surely he wouldn’t approve!” To which he would similarly reply, “Does Santa kiss you like this?” Funny, we only learn Kent’s name, but then again…

Panel Three, Lower Left: Kent’s best girl is suddenly swept up by the tentacled arm of an invading alien from outer space before we even learn her name. Where’s Kent? Has he been crushed into the sand like a stale cigarette? Who knows? My guess is that he’s gone off to find his second best girl because this one is doomed while she bemoans her fate and wonders why Jesus wasn’t around to protect her. For Kent, Jesus is a good luck charm to attract what he wants. For Kent’s best girl, Jesus is a security guard to keep away what she didn’t want. For the space aliens, Jesus was just another “puny earthling” they ate for breakfast.

Panel Four, Lower Right: In a darkened room, somewhere distant from the mayhem caused by the invading aliens, a mysterious operative discusses plans with an unidentified individual. For them, the circumstances are simply something to be exploited to better their financial situation. Disasters drive people to finally answer the knock of Jesus on the “Deliveries Only” door of their hearts. These two want to make their version of Jesus the one that people are buying.

(Insert commercial for Dazzling Delight Dish Detergent here.)

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, the dialogue used actually told me more about my perceptions of how the world views Jesus than I expected. So how would I answer the question “What do you believe your neighbor thinks about Jesus?” Accurate or not, I probably see most people as holding to some form of Deism where Jesus is real, but remote. He put all of this salvation stuff in place, but now He’s just sitting back and waiting to see how it all turns out. Even if there are invading space aliens, He’s not going to get involved with us, so why should we get involved with Him? This may best be summarized by “Believing isn’t worshipping.” (Hopefully this would go without saying, but just to make sure you understand…I’m not saying that’s how people are, just how I might perceive them to be, and I probably don’t see people as well as I should.)

For me, understanding all of this is important because it showed me some ideas which I may unknowingly carry into a conversation about Real Life Jesus. Those preconceived notions may make it difficult for me to truly listen.

Do you remember this “What if…?” What if I assumed everyone already had a relationship with Jesus? So maybe it’s a one-way relationship and Jesus is the only one actively involved, but it’s still a relationship. What if my goal should not be to start that relationship but instead to help that relationship along? 

Well, here’s another “What if…?” to go with it. What if since everyone already has a relationship with Jesus (whether they realized it or not), I try first to learn what Jesus has already revealed of Himself to them before I try to share what Jesus has revealed of Himself to me? I’m betting I’ll learn something that will help build a connection.

(Scroll closing credits.)

“Identifying The Hopelessly Lost (Laura, This Needs To Stop!)”

So what do you think? What do you picture in your mind when you hear “The Hopelessly Lost”? People with tattoos or motorcycles or unusual clothes and hair? They probably wouldn’t really be on very many lists. (But to be honest, I do see some of them still popping up unexpectedly in my own thoughts.) There just has to be someone though, right? Maybe a meth addict who is just a shadow of who they once were? Maybe a ragged homeless person with an empty gaze? Maybe a passed out alcoholic? Surely there have to be somebody who we could call one of “The Hopelessly Lost.”

Maybe we need to understand how we are using the word “Lost.” There is the “Amazing Grace” kind of “Lost” like a ship on the sea, not knowing where to go. There is the “Jesus Parables” kind of “Lost” like with something loved, wanted, and valued as in Luke Chapter 15. Nowhere is there a completely and bizarrely different “Lost” based on outward appearance the way that Laura is using this word. Nowhere is the situation described as “Hopeless.”

Yet how many people choose not to attend church because they will be judged by their outward appearance?

I have always thought of myself as just a very ordinary average looking guy in the crowd, yet I remember once visiting a large church where I was the only man there with a beard. No one even had a mustache! No facial hair at all. I had the white shirt, tie, and King James Bible, but I was not clean shaven. I felt really awkward, like all eyes were on me to say “You don’t belong here.” Yet nobody said a word to me. No greeting. Nothing. So I can begin to imagine what someone with a non-traditional or non-conservative appearance might be feeling before stepping through the door at some churches!

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NASB)

So only God can see what really matters, the heart. If we are to see the heart at all, I think it is only what He chooses to let us see, and then only those things that will move us with compassion and love, not criticism.

If you hesitate or avoid going to church because there might be some Tidy List Makers there, please remember this. It’s NOT their church. It belongs to Jesus. He paid for it with His own blood. (Acts 20:28) I really do believe He’s saying to you just like He said to me, “You just get yourself in there, and you sit anywhere in there that you want. Just don’t scare the kids.” (A white shirt and tie can be very scary when everyone else has on polo shirts, cargo shorts, and flip flops.)

What should we see when we look at that meth addict, that passed out alcoholic, that homeless ragged person? I believe we are to see the image of God Himself in all people, even in someone who might be mislabeled “The Hopelessly Lost.”

What if the farther we push ourselves away from anyone with a label like “The Hopelessly Lost,” the farther we push ourselves away from God?

“Yeah! It’s Clobberin’ Time!”

So what do you think about sharing God’s Word and sharing The Gospel? Is either of these supposed to be “Clobberin’ Time?” I should probably explain that currently I’m looking at “Sharing God’s Word” and “Sharing The Gospel” as not always being the same thing. Here’s why.

When I think of “Sharing The Gospel,” I think of one message that is central to almost all Christian denominations in one form or another: “Christ died for my sins. Christ rose from the dead. Christ commands me to follow His example and to love as He loved. Christ will come again for me.”

When I think of “Sharing God’s Word,” I think of The Gospel, however I also think of how this phrase has been used with other portions of the Bible outside of the Gospel books for “Clobberin’ Time!” To me, this is when other legalistic-sounding things are added to The Gospel. It took me many years to understand “Jesus Plus Nothing.”

I want so much to believe and demonstrate that the Gospel is so strong and pure and direct from God that it is life-changing, whatever that change in a person’s life may look like to God, not necessarily to me.

I want so much to believe and demonstrate that The Gospel is strong enough on its own to make “Clobberin’ Time!” completely obsolete, especially includes the mental “Clobberin’ Time!” we occasionally give to ourselves!

I want so much to believe and demonstrate that The Gospel and God’s Word are The Person Of Jesus, not printed words on a page.

“People We Don’t Like”


Laura’s Essential Life List for this week is titled “People We Don’t Like, Don’t Want In Our Church, And Don’t Want To Spend Eternity With.”

What a brilliant and extremely Essential Life List to have! Why not start yours today!

So what do you think? Why not start your very own list of people you don’t like, don’t want to have in church, and don’t want to spend eternity with?

Well, for one thing, it doesn’t sound very much like something Jesus Himself would do, does it?

Yet I think that if we would be honest with ourselves, there have been times when we have thought, “I really don’t want to have to see that person in heaven. I’m not sure I could handle it if we lived next door to each other in heaven for all eternity.”

Crazy thoughts, right?

And yet the very same people that we might want to exclude from church now and heaven in the future may be the very same people who avoid anything related to Jesus because of how they perceive us. That is extremely concerning to me.

The only group that Jesus ever called out specifically with a warning were religious hypocrites.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.” Matthew 23:13

My list just has one item on it right now, and it’s a “thing,” not a person or group of people: any remnants of a self-righteous and exclusionary attitude in my own heart.