Despite what we might think we are teaching our kids, most of them are perceptive enough to work out the priorities in life by the questions we ask. “Did you have fun (play the fool)?” Where you entertained (to hold the mind captive)?” “Were you amused (to deceive, distract)?”
And, you can tell they are learning the high priority we place on being entertained by the subsequent reply. “I’m bored”.
Such lessons – learned early – often become the trivial benchmark by which we measure our shrinking lives as adults. And as our lives shrink to match the size of our priorities, so our vision of Jesus shrinks.
As someone once put it, “Our outlook is small because our Jesus is small.”
We look over the church rosters making a mental note of who isn’t on them while sidestepping the mortification of actual sins and the pursuit of holiness. We have plenty to say about life’s little irritations but nothing to say about our fornication.
For many, the quest to be happy and have fun rather than be productive, godly and fruitful, has reduced Jesus to a carpenter who does little more than a few odd jobs about the human heart now and then.
At the same time, we cannot openly deny what the bible teaches: Jesus is both great and glorious.
We know that Jesus creates and gives life to every living creature (John 1:1-4). We know that Jesus was upholding the entire universe while laying in a manger (Hebrews 1:3).
We acknowledge that He determines the lifespan of every sparrow while simultaneously moving the sun, moon and stars in their courses above. And we admit that He ordains the rise and fall of nations, comforts the widow in her affliction, clothes the lilies and raises the dead.
We happily declare Jesus to be great, glorious and ever-present in all these things. But we also want Him small enough so that He doesn’t meddle with our science class, interrupt our casual dating or comment on our appetite for plastic toys and cash.
To accommodate this problem, we push the stunning glory of His present rule and reign into the future. Into the future, we put; overcoming and mortifying our sin, the call to godliness and the demand for holiness. Into the future, we put His return, His judgement and His presence – along with His reign of righteousness – here on earth.
We put these things into the future in the hope that such a great and glorious Jesus would not trouble us just now. We’re busy doing other things.
But Jesus is already Lord over everything and Lord everywhere. Did you catch that? Everything and Everywhere.
Our problem is that having been so captivated by our shrinking amusements (or so shrunk by our captivating amusements), we are not able to get beyond the jolly fat man. We are unable to see past our trivial pre-occupations in order to see Jesus clearly.
As C. S Lewis once said,
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine a holiday at the sea, we are far too easily pleased.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
The congregation where my family and I fellowship is embarking on a mission over the next year entitled, “Seeing Jesus Clearly”. It is a wonderful, right and godly prayer and purpose for any local church to have.
May God open our eyes to see Jesus clearly. To see the absolute glory, goodness and greatness of the Lord Jesus. To repent of our childish amusements and fall down in awe. For when the church sees Him clearly, it will not be long before the world around us sees Him clearly too (Matthew 5:16).