I thought that this post (passed on by my ever-watchful girlfriend!) was most excellent, although the point may evade a lot of people. And I don’t mean excellent just for its humour — which it most certainly is — but excellent from an Evangelical Theological viewpoint.
The author diverges quite a bit, going into a long and often overwhelming rant against little figurines. However, while some people in the comments section seem to have missed the point the first time through, I got it pretty fast, when she stated:
So, seriously. I think it’s safe to say that Jesus isn’t going anywhere. Sure, there are plenty of people who don’t believe, but, and let’s really think about this, do you honestly think that making Jesus my homeslice is what’s going to make the difference between me believing in the Bible and not? What the people who are making these products fail to realize is that these things are not helping non-believers see the “light”. All they’re doing, really, is make believers look ridiculously corny. Like, you buy into this crap? Jesus on a Tobogganing trip? The fuck? What does this have to do with, well, anything? Does that answer the questions of hatred, war, famine, disease?
As an Evangelical Christian, I was raised in a church that relies heavily on this “homeslice” concept. Ask anyone what the key to salvation is, and their response will be “a personal relationship with Jesus.” Consider their children and youth ministries, and you will notice a heavy emphasis on the “Jesus on a Tobogganing Trip” concept — Jesus encourages playing games and enjoying yourself and he’salwayspresentsoyoushouldfeelhappy!!!
While I don’t think that this upbringing is entirely lacking in substance, I think it falls into the same snare that too many groups of Christians have: It humanizes our faith. To rephrase, I think that the typical Evangelical perspective takes the Gospel and interprets it based on our understanding of certain concepts, and renders it into a useless version of itself.
I can’t focus on every aspect of this, clearly. There are a number of underlying factors here, and many cultural values that have been loaded into this faith system. But the one aspect I would like to target is one of the most important messages in the Bible, and easily the most recurring topic: Love.
Interpreting the Bible with Love in mind is a valid perspective, by me. It’s safe to say that God wouldn’t have deliberately created humans without love as a factor; Omnipotent beings, as far as I can tell, don’t just poke around for fun and accidentally wind up creating a sentient race. Also, His continued devotion to the Israelites is only explainable through love, since He continuously denounces them for their sins, then turns around and hands them another chance. [add to this His omniscience, and one has to figure love must be a major factor, since He knows they're going to botch up again!] And the message of Christ is undeniably one of love, with the ultimate conclusion of a series of love-filled lessons being Christ’s loving sacrifice upon the cross in order to restore mankind. The ultimate love story, as told by John: “For God so loved the world”… and you know the rest of the verse!
Simply put, as 1 John 4:16 puts it, God is love!
Now, perhaps I’m sounding a little too much like the people who made the Basketball statue in the post. And I’m glad. That’s the point. Too often, the word love in our society is equated with friendship, or companionship. This is the failing of the Evangelical church.
One could do a lifetime of studying on just what the Bible says love is. I’m not going to do that. But what I think is important for Christians to realize is that this interpretation of love is a) too simple and b) too relative. For eons, women and men were married out of necessity. They didn’t choose wedlock; Rather, the woman was given to a man, for political or familial reasons. Clearly a person in such a system would interpret the statement “Jesus loves you” differently than the typical Evangelical does. Love in an age of assigned marriage is about dedication, perseverance, and practicality.
I’m not arguing that their perspective is right; Rather, there’s a combination of both factors contained within the Bible. What I’m arguing is that Evangelicals too often get caught up in the idea that Jesus’ love for us is modern love, a love which is relationship-driven and quite “buddy-buddy.” Ideally, couples today joke with each other, flirt with each other, and have an overall chummy partnership.
And yet, the Bible teaches that God is Sovereign. He is, as the author of this post points out, God, not our next-door neighbour. Yes, he is omnipresent, and yes he loves us, but that does not necessarily combine to make playing basketball with God a Biblical necessity.
And, as Rockstar Mommy points out, there’s a practical implication behind this form of “advertising” Jesus. For rich, white [spoiled] kids, sure, basketball is the epitome of a relationship. But for one starving in the streets of capitalist North America? Or for a child with AIDS in Africa? I don’t think that saying “Jesus wants to play keepaway with you” will capture the spirit of love for them.
And for the rest of us intellects, it just makes a good joke!