Uncertain Faith

Finding the courgage to live with uncertainity

"I like to picture Jesus..."

D.L. Williams

09 Aug, 2015

Prelude and prayer before a family meal at the home of Ricky Bobby:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQmz5699DPQ


Also, check out some of the "I like to picture Jesus" outtakes as well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slKctZWdIes


"I like the Christmas Jesus best." - Ricky Bobby

"I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt." - Cal Naughton Jr.

"I like to think of Jesus, like, with giant eagle's wings...and singing lead vocal for Lynyrd Skynyrd with, like a angel band." - Cal Naughton Jr.

"I like to picture Jesus, like a mischievous badger." "...like a muscular trapeze artist." "...like a shape-shifter or a 'changeling.'" -  Cal Naughton Jr.

"I like to picture Jesus as a ninja fighting off evil samurai." - Walker Bobby

"I like to picture Jesus as a figure skater who wears like a white outfit and he does interpretive ice dances of my life's journey."

"...like a dirty old bum and he comes up to me, an' I'm about to sock him one cause he's a dirty old bum and then I said wait a minute, I better not sock this guy, there's something special about him." - Cal Naughton Jr. "And it turns out it's Jesus." - Ricky Bobby


The "Baby Jesus prayer" by Ricky Bobby (portrayed by Will Ferrell in the 2006 comedy "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby") captured in a hilariously satirical way the contemporary impulse to picture Jesus the way we want to picture him.  Perhaps it is the human impulse to make Jesus [or God] into our image; an image we can picture, an image we can understand, an image we can relate to, an image we can control. Here's the biggest problem with this. Our picture/image of Jesus/God is flawed.  It is incomplete. It is imperfect.  It is too often constructed with the intent to manipulate, coerce and control others.  This seems to be the exact opposite of what the historical and biblical Jesus set out to accomplish.  Evangelical Christians have tended to reduce following Jesus to little more than a personal experience, which is more often than not an experience that we want.


So who was Jesus of Nazareth?

Was Jesus just a Jewish reformer? Was the story of Jesus just a well-timed, well-written myth? Was Jesus a mystic? Was Jesus just a political revolutionary? Was Jesus just an ancient prophet or healer? Was Jesus Israel's Messiah? Was Jesus a sage? Was he a seer? Was he a grassroots Jewish theologian? Was Jesus a magician? Was Jesus a miracle worker? Was Jesus the "son of God?" Was he everything we could possibly imagine and then some?


Let's bring it forward a bit.

Do you like to picture Jesus as your friend?  Do you like to picture Jesus as a celebrity? Do you like to picture Jesus like a superstar? Do you like to picture Jesus as your King? Do you like to picture Jesus as your ultimate blood donor? Do you like to picture Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you like to picture Jesus as your ticket to heaven?


Do you ever think things like this?:

I like to imagine Jesus walking on water.

I like to picture Jesus concocting some of the finest of wines out of seawater.

I like to think of Jesus grilling up a delectable feast of bread and fish from some boy's lunch.

I like the Jesus that chastises the Pharisee better than the adulterer loving Jesus.

I like to imagine Jesus gladly attending one of my church's Sunday morning worship services.

I like to think of Jesus as my "get-out-of-Hell-free" card.

I like to picture Jesus as my drinking buddy.

I like to think of Jesus as the ideal husband.

I like to picture Jesus like a handsome, clean-cut, white American.

I like to think of Jesus, like my own brilliant personal physician who will make sure I (or anyone I love) doesn't get cancer.

I like to picture Jesus as the chief adviser to my preferred political party.

I like to picture Jesus as an economical chairman who will ensure my bottom line is met, my bills are paid and I have enough leftover so I can take a comfortable family vacation.

I like to picture Jesus like my "Good Shepherd", but I don't like that he said people should deny themselves, take up their instrument(s) of death and follow him.

I like to picture Jesus like my "bread of life", but I don't like that he said that people shouldn't worry about what they will eat or drink.

I like to picture Jesus as saving me from my sins, but I don't like that he said that those who follow him will suffer.

I like to picture Jesus as as my King of kings, but I don't like the ridiculously extreme application of turning the other cheek.

I like to picture Jesus as my Lord of lords, but loving my enemies is subjective.


"Talladega Nights" and these musings reflect ways in which many approach Jesus or faith in Jesus.  We do whatever we can to capture the certain image or picture of Jesus to remove all doubt.  John Ortberg wrote that "we need doubt to help us know where we are making God (Jesus) up as we go along." ("Faith & Doubt", pg. 143)  Doubt and uncertainty probe us to look inside ourselves, to examine our motives and be aware of our propensity to want control.  Faith isn't designed to remove all doubt and uncertainty.  It ought to embrace it, listen to it, be shaped by it. It should drive us deeper in our hunger for truth, true living.  Ortberg continued, "uncertainty is a gift because it gnaws at us to pursue truth." ("Faith & Doubt", pg. 145)  This is why we ought to resist simple answers and Jesus-images shaped into our own preferences and biases.  


What "pictures" of Jesus do you "like" that just further your insatiable desire for control?  What "pictures" of Jesus limit your pursuit of truth? 

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