In the preface to NT Wright’s tome, Jesus and the Victory of God, he makes this observation:
All writers about Jesus have to live with the old jibe that the historian is inclined to see his or her own face at the bottom of a deep well and mistake it for the face of Jesus. I have to say that the face I describe in this book always was, and still remains, disturbingly unlike my own. I have not tried to make Jesus in the image either of a university lecturer or of an Anglican priest; he continues to challenge and disturb both of those worlds and those who live in them, myself included. (XV)
As I pondered that quote I couldn’t help but think how often I want to make Jesus into my own image. Not slight of hair, slender in weight, and often craving chocolate chip cookies, but a conforming image of what I think he should be in order not to be a disturbance or interruption upon my rather convenient and often non-committed life.
As hard as that is to admit, I find it rather cathartic. Knowing that my penchant is to mold Jesus into something that serves my often inexcusable life forces me to come to terms with who Jesus really is. The Christ of the Gospels is nothing like what I’d prefer him to be. The one who calls himself the son of God, son of man, and Messiah is not threatened by my attempts to make pitiful icons of who he is. He stands in stark contrast to my feeble attempts at portrait painting and stands firmly with outstretched arms calling me to the real Jesus.
I’m never quite sure why I often find myself resisting that call. I know his load is easy and his burden manageable, yet still I resist. Is it because he is light and I prefer darkness? Is it because he was committed to serve and I prefer to be served? Is it because he is truth and my comfort level tends toward shades of grey? I know he calls me to pick up my cross and follow him daily, but that seems so inconvenient at times. Doesn’t he know I have important things to do?
The truth is, I want to be disturbed by the Jesus of the Gospels. I want to be strong enough to carry my cross. I really do want to find joy in his presence and know the power of God’s spirit working in and through me. Yet, it seems I have been so deluded by what appears important that I’ve lost sight of what is eternally important. Shame on me.
It’s time to look at the face which is disturbingly unlike my own. One that will challenge and disrupt my comfortable little life and beckon me to step out of my comfort zone and walk with new legs and see with new eyes.