authentic messiah?

While driving my daughter back to college today, we were making our way through a northshore [of Chicago] community known for it’s uniquely large Jewish population. At one point we were stuck behind a CTA bus making stop after stop. Plastered across the back of the bus was a huge banner advertising a local church’s study series entitled Authentic Jesus. Teaching on the real Jesus is a good thing. Adverstising the study is not a bad idea. The problem was with the banner.

The dictionary definition of authentic? “Genuine, having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence.” Now this is just me….but given that definition, it seemed the enormous [you can’t miss seeing it] advertising bus banner portrayed Jesus as something other than authentic.

Who was the genuine and original supported by unquestionable evidence Jesus? A light blond coiffured, neatly groomed redish bearded, popstar-like looking caucasian?

Honestly, I couldn’t help but wonder what this overtly Jewish community thinks of this americanized Jesus? Wasn’t the Messiah Jewish? Wasn’t he supposed to be?  Didn’t the OT prophet Isaiah say, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”

This was just too weird for me…too ironic.  The Jewish Messiah being publically portrayed in a Jewish community as anything other than Jewish. Granted, I may be overreacting to all this. If so, it’s my issue.  However the banner made me fear more than ever that as 21st century American Christians we like to make Jesus into our image.  I’m not convinced that qualifies as authentic.

1 Response to “authentic messiah?”

  1. 1 Kim Whetstone
    September 12, 2008 at 6:14 am

    I agree with and appreciate both your thoughts and discontent regarding this banner. I believe we do create an image of God that reflects who we are as Americans or who we are culturally, racially or ethnically. To think of our less than authentic depictions of Jesus in a positive light, depictions of Christ that reflect various racial groups can allow a particular group to feel more a part of the Kingdom of God (obviously not the rhetoric behind this banner); however, they can also create an “in group” and an “out group” and promote oppression as particularly noted by liberation and womanist theologians. For me, all of these thoughts bring me to a place of contemplation and reflection that ultimately leads to the topic of last Sunday’s message, idolatry. As Christians, we know that we cannot fully wrap our minds around God. However, we know much about God through (revelation) Jesus, the work of the cross, and scripture. With the amazing knowledge we have of God through and in Jesus, who is my “authentic” or should I say “less than authentic” Jesus? When I look to Jesus do I see love, grace and mercy or the critical voice of a father, mother or friend? When I look to the cross do I see Jesus in His profoundly loving “It is finished?” Or, do I see a father saying, “Come on. You’ve gotta work harder. I didn’t come here just to do this for you.” I think you get my point. As individuals we craft and worship our own “less than authentic” Jesus. Thank God He is in the healing and restoring broken sons and daughters business :).

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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
September 2008
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"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire



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