I hang out at a ceramics shop and I do a great deal of painting. One day the owner was given an enormous truckload of items from the family of a woman who had recently died. She had molds, finished pieces, green ware, and all manner of ceramics in various stages of completion. One of the figurines was a Bleeding Heart Jesus. He had never been finished and whoever had begun painting him was unaware of how this was to look as they had painted on a necklace and painted the beating heart gold as if he wore a large heart locket. The shop owner asked me if I would fix Jesus. Thus, began a daunting task.
So, I took Jesus home and one day I sat down to begin fixing him. As I worked on him, the thought occurred to me that I was doing what a lot of churches and Christians have done – tried to fix Jesus. Somewhere along the way, the church universal began to behave as if it wasn’t Jesus that they were trying to be like. They became the boss, the ones who know best, the ones who could pass judgment and the ones who put words into Jesus’ mouth. It was a disturbing thought to picture churches as the Pharisees and Jesus telling them about themselves. Where was I in that picture? Where are you? Where is your church?
Fixing Jesus will require a great deal of time and patience. First, all the dust has to be removed, then the colors sharpened and brightened. The trick with ceramics is how it often falls to the artist to determine where to put lines, details, sharp edges, and slowly bring a piece to life.
To me, that sounds like the church these days – not all but many. The lines have blurred, there are no boundaries, the details are left to chance and the colors of our faith have been dulled and left to gather dust. In the effort to not adhere to what Jesus expects of followers, the church has put itself in quite the predicament. When the poor do not matter, when ministry is just throwing money at something or an act designed to make its doers feel good about themselves, when there are no Bibles in the sanctuaries, when people get defensive and attack about their faith because they do not really know it; there is a problem. Yet, Christians keep trying to fix Jesus.
I have to use the tiniest of brushes hold my tongue just right, still my body to the tiniest of movements to get the details correct. Slowly, but surely, he comes to life in my hands. Beard, mouth, eyes, fingers, toes, and hair all begin to take on the look of a person represented instead of merely a hunk of ceramic.
Do you want to know something interesting about the color yellow? It is a translucent color. In order for it to be seen on a canvas or a figurine, it must be mixed with another color. Typically, the color chosen is white or some variation of white. This makes the yellow opaque as opposed to translucent. So, in order to fix Jesus, I have to take the color of the sun (SON) and in order for it to be seen I must mix it with white (the color of redemption and new life) and then apply the mixed color in the appropriate place.
What happens when yellow (SON) is mixed with black? Well, even though Jesus is divine, evil is too dark and can take over. You see, people must be willing for the black to be lightened enough to become white. It can happen, but it takes a lot of white – a lot of white. Jesus never forced anyone into repentance or redemption. They must be willing and take part in the transformation.
So, I just keep fixing Jesus quietly wondering if anyone else will get this random thought process. Can churches become humble enough to become white enough to make the Son be seen? Or will they keep trying to change who Jesus was and is so that they can believe they are okay, right, righteous, and really do not need to change (because that requires work, energy, humility, and repentance).
So, can the yellow be seen in your life or is the Son translucent? Are you trying to fix Jesus to match you or are you allowing yourself to help Him be seen?