So Long, Stereotype!
The church is sort of full of stereotypes. In the New Testament context, I suppose they start with the story of Jesus' birth.
We picture an evil innkeeper who wouldn't find a room for Mary and Joseph. Except it probably didn't happen that way.
Or maybe the crowd gathered around the newborn Jesus, in a manger in a barn out back of the nonexistent "inn". More likely it was downstairs of the house where they couldn't find anywhere else to stay.
Houses back then were not an acre with a lawn and a 3BR/2BA bungalow, you know. Or a stable, for that matter.
Perhaps the time honored painting of that crowd around the manger, which includes the 3 Wise Men from the East. Well .. they wouldn't have been there, either. They were a LONG way away from Bethlehem, and it's doubtful Mary and Joseph would have kept Jesus in a manger until the Magi could get there.
They probably weren't even expecting them....
But hey, nothing in the scripture says there were 3 of them, anyway. Only that however many of them there were, they brought 3 gifts.
Those may be common stereotypes, but they're not the ones I am thinking of. I am thinking specifically of the commonly-held views about Jesus, Himself.
If you want a cute little exercise some time, just replay in your mind, Jesus' interaction with the woman at the well, or the woman caught in adultery. But put a smile on Jesus' face.
No judgment for an extensive divorce history, or a scandalous sex life. Just love, showing on Someone's face. Can you just imagine the grin when He said "Go get your husband .... ", knowing full well her situation? Or maybe Him grinning, first, before He said "Where are those who accuse you?"
Before I get back to The Shack, a side trip. Have you ever done anything to help someone,where it made a huge difference in their life? I recall a "F.A.I.T.H" visit once, in which I was asked to share a "FAITH testimony" But my train of thought was interrupted when I noticed the daughter of the person we went to see. She was quietly crying in a corner of the living room, which caused me to stop the "presentation" and ask her to come sit on the couch. So I just talked to her.
She ended up getting big-time, down-front, saved. Repentingly, rejoicingly, resoundingly SAVED!
That's been 10 or 15 years now, and I've only seen her once or twice, in that time. But I have to tell you, those really were times of rejoicing.
So I think it is, with Jesus and the redeemed. Yet I do not see many representations of the Savior, that reflect that. Those are normally the "Sallman head", Jesus standing at the door and knocking or maybe on a cross, or an ethereal picture featuring a halo or aurora.
Those are OK, I guess, but how do you think Jesus reacts when He sees one of His redeemed? Yes, He suffered sore for us, but ... news flash:
When you see a grown child of yours ... one that makes you proud ... is the first thing you think of, the grief they brought? The pain of childbirth? The sacrifices you made to raise them? The things you did without?
I doubt it. I think you get blessed to the max with how they turned out. And I think the same thing goes through Jesus' mind when He sees one of us.
That's a picture of the actor who played Jesus in the movie, up yonder. Wearing just about his default expression in the film. And that was my big takeaway from the movie, The Shack.
When I read the book, I was percolating along fine until I got to the passage in which Mack tells Papa that he felt abandoned by God, much as Jesus said He was, on the cross. Papa corrected Mack and said "I know what He felt ... but I never left Him".
Well, this time, the "AHA" moment came when I saw Jesus as a winsome, happy Man Who loves to engage with His people, and is "tickled pink" that His suffering worked.
I think He's just that, and more, And what a privilege to look forward to seeing that smile again, one day.
He won't be the only One smiling, if I'm right....