It’s a popular headline in all the newspapers. It usually starts popping up after the American Thanksgiving. It hits the local cable TV news programs at least once or twice during the month of December. Google it and you will have plenty to read while you are sipping your morning coffee.
“Missing Baby Jesus” or, “Baby Jesus Stolen.”
Whether it is from a church nativity scene or from a front yard, Baby Jesus seems to go missing every Christmas. It has become such a problem that some are encasing their plastic nativity scenes in Plexiglas. Others are equipping their high-end infant with a GPS. And it’s no wonder, considering that some churches pay anywhere from one thousand to 1.5 million dollars for their ceramic Baby Jesus!
Some may find these headlines shocking, and others just find them ridiculous, but they cause me to stop and ponder.
We tend to notice when Baby Jesus goes missing in the months of November and December. We try our hardest to keep Him in Christmas. Yet, most of us never realize that for the most part, He is also missing for the other ten months of the year. He is missing from our churches, schools, homes and hearts.
In our defense, it is easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget about Jesus. We do not intentionally ignore Him. We do not plan to leave Him out, but life happens. Work, carpool, ministry, church, missions, dentist appointments, sick parents, strained marriages… all fight for the few hours in our day.
Yet, Scripture commands us, “Remember Jesus…” II Tim 2:8
When Paul wrote this advice to a young, frightened, in over-his-head pastor in Ephesus named Timothy, the old, weather-beaten apostle knew from first hand experience that life would get in the way for him. He knew trials and temptations could veer Timothy off course. Paul knew discouragement, loneliness, political correctness, and inexperience would all “run amuck” in Timothy’s ministry, so he gave the best advice he knew.
“Remember Jesus…” II Tim 2:18
Paul uses the present grammatical tense of the word “remember.” This means it is a command to be obeyed constantly. In other words, Paul is commanding Timothy to deliberately – as an act of his will and a habit for life – keep the thought of Jesus and the price He paid for him ever before his thoughts.
Throughout his years of ministry, Paul had learned that fixing one’s thoughts on Jesus was not something one does automatically. It takes effort and a conscientious choice to make Jesus a part of our everyday life. However, Paul is telling Timothy that if he chooses to continually fix his thoughts on Jesus – no matter what is going on around him – then the truth of the Gospel will transform, energize and encourage him!
Is this the theme of my life? Is it the theme of yours?
In North America, we suffer from what I like to call the “Bobble-Head Jesus Theology,” because we have created our own version of Jesus. Our bobble-head Jesus continually nods his head in agreement with everything we do and say. He never disagrees with us.
He is a novelty.
We pull Him out on occasion for weddings, funerals and holidays.
Some carry Him around like a talisman, hoping to get their prayers answered, but then discard Him when they do not get what they want.
Some of us pull our bobble-head Jesus out every week before we head off to church, offer him our wooden worship and then we hide him away with the closing prayer until next Sunday.
Our bobble-head Jesus makes us look respectable yet he never tells us what to do! WE control HIM. We can put Him back in the box if He starts making demands that cause us to feel…uncomfortable. He does not have access to our finances, homes, our even our churches.
Then, we wonder why our lives are so full of fear, insecurity and little power!
Jesus did for us what no one else could or will do. He gave His life for us as a perfect sacrifice. He deserves more than a once a year celebration. He deserves more than being treated like a prized token or a novelty. He deserves our very lives, lived every day, poured out for HIM.
Jesus says, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)
We do not want “full.” What we want is security and comfort. We want the fake Jesus we have created, not the one Scripture gives us.
We like our plastic, bobble-head Jesus who never takes a stand against the culture of the day. We like the Jesus who worships the way we do, dresses the way we do and doesn’t ask us to do impossible things!
When Jesus Himself is our life, we can say with Apostle Paul that, “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ in me.” Then, when we are intentionally “remembering,” the real Jesus will be revealed through our lives.
People for whom the Christian life is exciting are those people who have “remembered” Jesus. They believe with all their hearts that Jesus Christ truly died and has truly risen from the dead, and that He is alive today to transform the lives of those around them.
They are living lives that shout the gospel to the world!
The world longs to see the genuine Christ. The world needs to see the genuine Christ.
Are you showing them a bobble-head Jesus or are you showing them the real thing?