Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Encountering Bronze Jesus

I was in Indiana recently for the closing of Bowman House as a freshman men’s Residence Hall at Indiana Wesleyan University. Arriving a day early for the closing events, I was able to participate and assist with the end-of-year Banquet and Awards Ceremony for this past year’s residents. I watched my friend’s son, Uriah, during the Banquet; when he got a little too antsy I took him out of the room and we walked around the Student Center and the campus grounds.

While we were walking around outside I observed this young boy have an encounter with Jesus. To be precise, he encountered the statue of Jesus outside the IWU Chapel Auditorium.  His encounter with the bronze Jesus statue is a picture of too many of my own encounters with Jesus.

Encountering Bronze Jesus

We left the Student Center and he was upset. Already antsy in the Banquet room, he had gotten more frustrated at having to leave.  He seemed to enjoy being outside and cheer up a little. I suggested that we head over to the Jesus statue; I recalled that both my boys liked the statue when we lived on campus.  We made the short walk over. I’m not sure if he knew that statue was Jesus before I told him, or if he had familiarity with similar Jesus images. I assume one of those is true because he seemed comfortable referring to the statue as “Jesus”.
Uriah climbed up on to the statue (with a little help from me).

Same Statue. Different Child. 
He touched Bronze Jesus’ feet.
We chilled at the base of the statue for a few minutes.
Then I thought we could walk around a little more.
We took a few steps, he turned and said.

“Bye, Jesus!”

…and he was good to go.

Encountering Jesus

In that moment, as we walked away, I started mentally formulating this post. His actions struck me as deeply profound.

I’m upset at the situation I’m in. I get antsy in the circumstances of my life. I get frustrated that I’m not getting my way. I can’t handle it anymore.
I do a quick check-in with Jesus.
I spend just enough time with Him to soothe my momentary crisis.
And I’m on my way…

“Bye, Jesus!”

See ya later!
I got it from here!
Don’t need you anymore!
I’m off to new and bigger adventures.
So long, and thanks for all the soul soothing!

I was stunned by the correlation of this 2-year-old’s actions and my own. I figured I could write about how the Christian life more than just checking in with Jesus.
I could write about how Jesus doesn’t just stand there let us come to him; he comes to us, he goes with us.
I could write about how the point of a relationship with Jesus isn’t to make us feel better, but how I often behave like it is.
IF I was feeling especially brave, I could write about specific experiences of discomfort in my life, times that I have run to Jesus for a temporary fix. I could talk about the times I treat Jesus like he’s a bronze statue that can’t walk and talk with me.

But what happened next struck an even deeper chord with me.

Returning to Jesus

As we circled back towards the Student Center, we got closer to Bronze Jesus again. The closer we got, the more upset Uriah became. He was fearful, scared, afraid and troubled to approach Bronze Jesus again. I picked him up and told him it was ok.
He quieted down a little and we approached.
Slowly he calmed down. He relaxed.
We moved closer. We sat and played around the statue for a few minutes before heading back to the banquet.

I have no idea why Uriah was scared to return to Jesus, but I know why I am.

I’ve treated him like an anti-depressant.
I’ve taken my dose and gone on with my life.
I’ve been away too long.
We haven’t talked in a while.
I’ve done things I regret.

I am ashamed.

I acted towards him as though he is a bronze statue and now I know I was wrong and I feel stupid.
I do believe Jesus is God. And I do believe he’s all-powerful, all-knowing, wholly holy…
And I also believe he is all-loving. He deserves reverence and worship, but he’s not going to send me away when I approach him, no matter how long I’ve been gone.

But somehow I forget that he’s been with me the whole time I’ve been ignoring him.

My short walk with Uriah gave me much to reflect upon regarding my relationship with Jesus. Maybe it can give you some things to consider as well.
Do you live your life as though you only need short doses of Jesus?
Do you communicate with Jesus as though he’s a person you can visit and then leave?
(“Bye, Jesus”)
Do you live your life as though he can’t see you, as though you’re fine on your own?
Do you come to him as though he doesn’t know what you’ve been up to, and he’ll be angry when he finds out?
Do you act as though he can’t handle your rebellion, your wandering?

Maybe it’s time we all stopped treating the Word Made Flesh the same way a two-year-old treats a bronze statue.

1 comment:

Kyle Varoskovic said...

Glad to see this post today, jared! I'd been in and out of the hospital and haven't been able to shake severe headaches whenever I sit or stand. It's making me take time from class where all I can do is lie down. All the time I wish for more time to read or connect with Jesus, but even in these past couple weeks I run to Him for comfort and choose to spend more time when I'm forced to slow down and rest apart from Jesus. Also, been trying to reread an arrow pointing to heaven in this time. Thanks for your impact on my life!!

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