Tuesday, August 7, 2007


As I was writing yesterday's post I began thinking about how watered down some so-called Christian religions have become. One church "claims Jesus Christ." Claims Him as what? A prophet? Nice guy? Saint? Someone to take out of the box a couple times a year? Then I remembered a little thing I wrote several months ago and sent off to family and friends because I was feeling incredibly self-righteous. I stuck it in my documents and present it here today, not because I'm feeling self-righteous but because I want to share my experience. It's a true story. I reworded it a little so as not to make it appear too much of a political statement; this is not a political blog. Here it is:

A few days ago I was going through my saved pictures on my computer and deleting those for which I had no more use. I tend to hoard and wonder why my computer is so slow. For example, I had a picture of an animal paw, done in stars and stripes—cute, but not something I use every day. Then there was the one of a well known politician and Howard Stern, who bear an uncanny resemblance to each other. I was thinking at one time of creating a photo shop monstrosity, but decided I could spend my time in wiser endeavors. Well, you get the picture (no pun intended.)

I brought up a few pictures I had been using in putting together our church address and activity book for 2007. One of them was a picture of Jesus, which I had labeled and saved as “Jesus.” I right clicked on the file name and then clicked on “delete.” Immediately the little box appeared with the question: “Are you sure you want to send ‘Jesus’ to the recycle bin?” My mouth dropped open, my breath came out in a gasp, and I stared at the monitor for a while until I remembered to inhale. Then I clicked on “no” and felt only marginally better.

It seems to me that, in many ways, that’s exactly what we’ve done with Jesus. Remember when Jesus used to be the “reason for the season?” When it was okay to say, “Merry Christmas” instead of ‘Happy Holidays?” Or to acknowledge the cross as a symbol of our risen Savior at Easter, instead of parading bunnies and baby chicks and colored eggs around our homes and churches?

I know I may sound preachy, and we’ve probably lamented all of this before, and I am aware I’m way out of season. But am I really? This little experience made me stop and think. Have I sent Jesus to the recycle bin? If so, what has He been recycled into? An artificial tree decorated and lit up with cheap baubles? A wind-up Santa, who says, “Ho ho ho” until you want to scream and tear your hair out? Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” ONE MORE TIME? A shelf of 25% off Holiday cards at Wal-Mart (or Barnes and Noble, for others of you?”) An icon to which we pay lip service on Sundays and, carefully, a couple of holidays, if we’re politically correct about it?

Okay, so I’m old. When I was in first grade I was an angel in the Cooperstown Central School Christmas pageant, and I’ll admit it was back in the dark ages. One of the local businesses—it may have been a bank— presented an annual display of a living manger scene, in which many local residents joyfully participated. They always managed to come up with a real baby for authenticity. There was a newness and a freshness and a sense of wonder that I could perceive even at my tender age. All that is gone now in our urgency to neutralize the very basic principles upon which our society was founded.

If we haven’t recycled Jesus, I’m afraid that we as Christians surely have diminished His significance by knuckling under to those who want to run our lives and take away our liberties. I am speaking to Christians, not to non-Christians, to whom this whole endeavor would make no sense. I assume it is permissible for me to address my fellow Christians without translating this into several languages or re-wording it so as not to offend our brothers and sisters of unlike persuasion, and to refer to Jesus as a male and not some androgynous being which may or may not have existed.

I don’t want to send Jesus to the recycle bin. If I am guilty of having done so I can only ask God to forgive me and to help me to focus on the Jesus of the Scriptures: the only way to salvation, our redeemer, who sits at the right hand of God. God hasn’t lowered His standards; neither should I.



John said...

Oh yes I remember the days of the Christmas Pageants. My little town of Ainsworth Nebraska had one of the best around and the Nebraska Educational TV Network Recorded it one year and played it at Christmas for many years after that. We had a stable and real characters with animals including a Donkey for Mary. I remember while in High School, the choir did the music for the pageant. It was great and I mourn for those days again. But..... Yesterday my sister asked me if I still had Joseph and Mary in Time-out. You see, I odnt get around really well and I put my statues of Mary and Joseph in the corner created by my front porch and they are facing the house. She said she had told people that I had a different way of celebrating Christmas and I put Mary and Joseph in time-out for the rest of the year. MMMMM

Equally Coy said...

Wonderful story!
It is certainly easy to fall into a sense of complacency with regard to "keeping" Jesus in our lives and that complacency can certainly lead to "sending him to the recycle bin", especially if we are trying to make room on the hard drive of our lives.
It is amazing how we can clutter up our lives with things that don't really matter much and set aside those things that matter the most.
I am not nearly so worried about outside forces (who or whatever those might be)taking Jesus out of my life. I am the one sitting in front of the delete button.

Thanks again for your post. It has caused me to set a "system restore point" and "adjust the properties" on my life's "recycle bin".


Brother Ev said...

Dear sister Jan,

What a powerful story.

Now, every time I delete a file I suspect I will always remember your story.

It seems many Restorationists are wondering if we have put, or are close to putting, Jesus in the recycle bin. Your story should certainly inspire others to think about their personal relationship with their one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God.

Years ago, I put Jesus and His Father, in a kind of recycle bin when my wonderful mother passed away. It was nine years before I realized that my "arm of flesh" way of life was a failure, and that I needed to put our Lord right where He belonged. BUT, He had to tell me that - and He did! Thanks to a wonderful wife and some wonderful Saints in Sunnyvale, CA., I just can't say how awesome my life became after I stopped walking away - and turned to Him. Just like He promised - I was forgiven and welcomed "home".

The analogy is terrific.

Thanks again, Jan.

brother Ev

Patricia Ragan said...

There have been many attempts at recycling Jesus. Through the ages there have been those who weren't comfortable with the true Jesus and had to come up with someone less threatening.

The Gnostics have done a good (bad) job of changing what people believe about Jesus. Look at all the Dan Brown followers, or the New Age Jesus. A lot of people are being fooled by a "recycled" Jesus