My kids were watching a happy Christian television show. The kind of bad TV from the 80’s that airs on some random public station, over the antenna, with ultra cheesy choreography and bad music. It’s not what I would have chosen for them, but let’s be honest, sometimes I just don’t care what they watch. I’m raising a toddler and a preschooler, and there are times that I’m simply thankful to have a moment to breathe. If bad puppeteering about Jesus means I can have a few minutes to browse Pinterest or use the bathroom all by myself, I’m in.
Not That Jesus
But now it was time to get ready for bed and the TV was still on. The puppets had ended, and the station was showing an interview-style show from one of those studios where everything is gaudy, from the vinyl gilded furniture to the flowery language. Big hair, bad make-up, phony smiles, and Holy Ghost tears were everywhere. I don’t remember the exact lingo, but I heard something along the lines of how they were once lost but now are found. How finding Jesus was so beautifully transformative, they hadn’t had a struggle or a sin in the past fifteen years. Once Jesus takes up residence in your heart, they claimed, life is peachy.
I stood there, sick baby on my hip, trying to convince my boundlessly energetic preschooler that it was time for bed, and shaking my head at the show. I was frustrated. They made the Christian life seem perfect, as if Jesus saves us and we become sealed off like Bubble Boy, where sin and struggle cannot penetrate.
One look at my life blew their theory apart. I’d missed a day of work to care for a feverish baby who had exploded three (count them: one, two, three) diapers and wouldn’t stop screaming for Mama. Meanwhile, all these people could talk about is how lovely their life with Jesus is. Could their Lovely Jesus come into my chaos and put these kids to bed while I down a quick glass of pinot grigio? Could their happily-ever-after Jesus please tell me why I believe, yet my daily life is still so hard?
As I listened to their show, I realized something: I don’t know their Jesus at all. And frankly, I don’t need Him.
What I need instead is to hear about the actual life of Christ. The kind of Jesus I really need is the Word made Flesh, a real human being whose cousin and dear friend was murdered unjustly. The Savior who got so worn out He needed to rest while his disciples kept walking. The Jesus who, after sweating in the desert sun, needed to stop and ask for a drink of water from the woman at the well. The Creator who took a nap in the bottom of the boat before speaking to the wind and calming the seas. I want someone to tell me about the Resurrected Lord who was frying fish for the Disciples the morning after the tomb was found empty.
I don't need to know the Bubble Boy Jesus. The kind of Jesus I really need to know is the Christ who understood life is hard. Making the Christian life out to be before and after shots from The Biggest Loser is disheartening for the Christian and a big fat lie for those who don’t yet believe.
Life with Christ truly is so much better, but I still have to change these messy diapers.