Jesus Got Highjacked
I was in New York City last Saturday. I went to see my daughter, Juliana, in a play. She has been living in New York City since she graduated from college, trying to live out her vocation of acting. She was one of the fairy godmothers in the play Sleeping Beauty. Even though my husband, Ted, hates the city, we went into the city to support our daughter’s acting career. We met up with my nephew, John, his wife, Nicolette, and their two and a half year old son, John Luca, and went to the play together. We walked from their apartment on the upper East Side, to the theater, which is off, off Broadway (yes, two “offs”), on the upper West Side. As we passed through Times Square I felt my husband recoil. The crowd was thick.
One thing I love about New York City is the diversity. People from all over the world, of every age, race, ethnicity, religion, size, shape, language, you name it, are all there together, a relatively tiny microcosm of the macrocosm.
There, next to the fat, hairy man in a women’s string bikini, was a man with a sign, “Repent!” I heard the name Jesus, and was about to walk up to the guy to tell him that I too worship this Jesus, when all of the sudden he began to spew forth venomous verbal attacks about hell, fire, damnation. “You are all pigs!” he shouted, and then began grunting and roving about like a wild boar. The crowd jostled me away, and I lost Ted for a few moments. I recoiled from this street preacher, and thought to myself, “How did Jesus get highjacked?”
How did the part about “God so LOVED the world” get cast aside, as well as the next verse, “God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him?” (John 3: 16 & 17) Isn’t this image of God as a God of hate and wrath and condemnation the very reason why God came among us in the humanity of Jesus to set us straight? To say “You’ve got it all wrong – I so LOVE this world! I did not come into this world to condemn it, but in order to save it by showing you another way to live and treat one another?”
How did Jesus ever get associated with such vile contempt? We are talking about Jesus, who broke bread with lepers and prostitutes and outcasts, because he so loved us. Jesus, who told us to forgive seventy times seven times, who fed the hungry, healed the sick, and invited all to live a life of true repentance (which literally means “turning”), turning away from those things which are not of God, turning our whole heart, soul, and mind to God, and the new and resurrected life God desires for us.
If Jesus were walking through Times Square today, he would look upon it all with eyes of love, not condemnation. He would look upon the crowds, now as he did then, with eyes of saving love, even the fat, hairy guy in the bikini.
I saw Christ last Saturday inside the theater, where families with young children came to see a play. It was a play where actors poured out their gifts before a small audience of mostly small children, who aren’t even able to write them reviews. It was a play where everyone in the audience was invited to reach down deep inside and grab hold of the strength and love within us and breathe it out to bring back to life the sleeping beauty, who’d been condemned to a truncated life by a misguided misanthrope.
It was a play, in fact, about true love which has the power to resurrect us. It was a play about the beauty which resides in all of us.
When Jesus gets highjacked, it is up to us, who have experienced his saving love, to breathe it out into this world, even to breathe it upon those who’ve highjacked Jesus. Today let us all reach down deep inside and grab hold of the strength and love of God within us, and breathe it out to bring back all of the beauty that is sleeping, condemned by the misguided misanthropes of this world. Oh, street preacher, with all of your grunting and talk about hell and condemnation, guess what? Jesus even loves you!
This day, may you see the beauty and love of God in all you encounter,
and may you reflect the beauty and love of God to all you encounter.
Linda Forsberg, Copyright, April 15, 2015
Photos: Times Square, NYC; NYC skyline from Staten Island Ferry; cross and sky from Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery, Abiquiu, NM; the fairy godmothers; the hateful misanthrope and the sleeping beauty; John Luca concerned about the hateful misanthrope; John Luca breathing hope, resurrection, love, and new life; John Luca and his beloved fairy Godmother, “Ju-Ju”