Letting Jesus out of the box

19 02 2010

On Monday afternoon, while cleaning out the Sunday School closets of the Youth Wing, some of the youth and I ran across the big party box of the game Apples to Apples. (If you’re unfamiliar with the game, click on the link to read wikipedia’s version of the rules…very briefly, it involves matching nouns and descriptive adjectives).

So, during our Wednesday night Bible study, we put Jesus at the center of the game. (The youth informed me that there is apparently a Bible version of the game that may have been more immediately relevant, but we used the real game). I scattered all of the green cards — the adjectives — around the floor, and asked the students to find the word that best described Jesus. We discussed their choices, and then went on to read some Bible passages that showed some conflicting images of Jesus: i.e. the meek and mild moral teacher vs. the conquering king of Revelation. After each reading, the youth were invited to pick up a new card.

One thing I’ve learned about my role as a youth director: every week, I get to learn, teach, and experience the lessons, all at the same time. By the end of the game, I had collected cards that said “Revolutionary,” “Rare,” and “Stunning.” My answers surprised me, as they were different from the cards that I thought I would choose.

But that was what the lesson was all about: expanding our image of Jesus. Too often we put Jesus in a box and never let him out (like Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, who insists on praying to little baby Jesus in a manger). But that’s no way to treat the Son of God!

The very next day, I began reading a book called ReJesus: A Wild Messiah For a Missional Church. Authors Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch argue that a “rediscovery of the biblical Jesus will reshape our view of God, the church, and the world,” but in order to open our eyes, we must “resist capturing Jesus for our ends or molding him to our theological or political agendas” (23, 24).

For this Lenten season, I challenged my students, as I challenge myself, to try to see Jesus in a different way. If you’re interested in trying something similar, I encourage you to check out this gallery of images called “Faces of Jesus.” Which Jesus is most familiar to you? Which Jesus is the “real” Jesus? Which Jesus is calling out to you today?

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