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I’ve been having some interesting discussions about “The Chosen.” Setting aside the producer, or any other extraneous issues, what do we think about the second commandment, the warning not to make graven images? Does that mean literal images, like paintings, movies, and photographs?

Shoot, we have just gone and wiped out all of Orthodoxy and destroyed the Sistine Chapel….

All in good humor here, but the 2nd commandment has come to mean something more akin to idolatry, so images are supposedly fine, just not graven images that you bow down and worship like idols. I’m honestly not sure how literal the 2nd commandment is intended to be. I tend to focus more on the significance of the graven images that live in our own imagination.

I think there really is a valid argument to be made about the dangers of taking artistic license with our portrayals of Jesus. Never mind “The Chosen,” let’s talk about “The Frozen,” that disconnected, wooden Jesus that was often evident in old Sunday school movies. He hovered 3 feet off the ground, spoke in a disembodied voice, and scared the heck out of me. There is also the more liberal Jesus, a hippy in sandals with a flower in his hair holding children and lambs. That guy also scared the heck out of me and true story, I was concerned about what might happen if the Creator of the universe got involved with the drug culture of the 60’s and decided to just “Turn on, tune in, drop out” as Timothy Leary seemed to want.

So you see, sudden objections to “The Chosen” on the basis of graven images means very little to someone who has already been absolutely ravished by……….graven images and cheesy portrayals of Jesus.

There is a greater point to all this however. How we perceive Jesus is very important to our worldview, our understanding of the world, and how we reflect His grace. It’s quite a bit more complicated then, “avoid The Chosen,” or “beware of false teachers!”

Take for instance Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I get that verse today, that makes complete sense….after 57 years of trying to learn what a good parent even is. If one has nothing to relate this very human analogy to, then those are just words on a page and they carry little meaning. We need examples, we need to see what that looks like in real life, what that feels like.

If your father was an abusive alcoholic who never gave you any gifts except for some post traumatic stress and an anxiety disorder, this verse doesn’t really compute.

This pastor once announced “I won’t be here next week, my grown children need me. He leaves the 99 for the one,” and boom, huge revelation for me. I actually cried, because yes, that is exactly what that means. You are a priority in your Father’s eyes. He will walk away from everything to come to you. He is never too busy, there is nothing more important. Until that very moment I had no idea what that even looked like or felt like.

All in good humor here, but that pastor healed about five of us of a lifetime of abandonment issues simply by announcing he was taking the week off, because His kids were important to him, just like we as God’s kids are important to Him. It takes about two seconds for a revelation like that to just change your whole life.

I often get pretty cranky about false teachings, works based stuff, where people falsely imply we have to earn the Father’s love and it is conditional on our behavior. In fact, if we don’t earn it, He won’t love us anymore and we’ll just be cancel cultured and thrown out. That garbage tends to really push my buttons because those are abuse tactics, the tools of narcissists, abusers, and pedophiles. God is Holy, perfect, wise, not a toxic, dysfunctional parent with control issues.

A good chunk of people reject a relationship with the Lord because they have falsely recreated Him in their minds in the image of the bad Christian down the street, an abusive parent, a rotten pastor, or even a toxic spouse. It often happens on a heart level somewhere beyond our awareness too, not on an intellectual level. I can talk myself blue in the face trying to explain that’s so not Jesus, but people will just keep the door to their heart slammed shut. These are heart matters.

How Jesus looked, or His mannerism, or any other physical images are not what’s important. In fact the Bible tells us, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” I suspect part of that is because we are supposed to be focused on how He feels, How we experience Him spiritually.

For many years, I myself did not understand why Jesus laid down His life for us. It didn’t make any sense, it didn’t register, I had never seen sacrificial love before. Tragically this local man died trying to save two children from drowning, and suddenly the words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” became real to me.

I’ve spent much of my life feeling very dysfunctional, trying to find normal in a world full of chaos. I remember a child who came over once to our messy house, noisy kids, cranky mom, and I was making a box of mac and cheese. She said, “you are so lucky you get to be a normal mom.” It just broke my heart, because yes, a lot of people don’t even have that, they don’t even know what it looks like to be part of a semi functioning family. The world has to be pretty darn broken for anyone to find me normal. And it is! It is so broken many people have no idea what it is they are even longing for.

This wise pastor once said that he didn’t think people needed to be taught about Jesus, they really just needed to be unlearned. Unlearning means “to discard something learned, especially a bad habit or false or outdated information from one’s memory.”

I’m a big fan of just letting the Holy spirit lead and guide you about what movies you watch, what company you keep, what teachers you enjoy. In fact, I get a bit weary about all the Christians so quick to condemn the latest thing, like we will all be unwittingly led astray and deceived if someone doesn’t warn us. First of all, that’s fear mongering, and second of all, “my sheep know my voice.”