Imagine if you will a police line up. Imagine that there is an assortment of men standing side by side. They don’t look alike. There is nothing particularly similar about them. They are not even wearing the same kind of clothes.
Imagine if you had heard about a man who, for example, works with your husband, or wife. You have never met them before, but only hear about them in conversations.
Imagine that from the police line up you are asked, on the basis of all those conversations, to pick out the man. Obviously you don’t know for sure, and your best guess is not going to see him convicted of a crime or anything. You are simply guessing.
Actually this reminds me of a game show hosted by Donny Osmond not so long ago. I can’t remember the name of it, but the aim of the game was to match up the people to their occupations. I rather thought I would like to be a contestant, not on the basis of being able to pick the right people and match them to their jobs, but on the basis that I would get to stand very close to Donny Osmond!
My husband, a very long time ago, used to mention a friend of his who didn’t exactly work with him, but was involved with the Crofter’s Commission. I formed a picture in my mind of what I thought this person looked like. I thought he was in his early fifties, not particularly tall, quite stout, bald headed and serious looking. I have no idea how I came up with that kind of a picture.
Imagine my surprise when I actually got to meet the man. My husband will tell you that my jaw hit the ground with a solid thud. This man was Mr Universe personified. He was, as I blurted out to Joe afterwards, “Gorgeous!” He might have been in his early fifties but he didn’t look it. He was tall, slim, had brown hair that just long enough to flop over his forehead in a very attractive manner. And he smiled a huge smile. He hugged me, because I was Joe’s wife and I went weak at the knees.
My reaction came as no surprise to my husband as all the women in his section at work were drooling at the mere mention of his friend’s name! He just thought I was made of more solid stuff!
What happened to my small, stout, bald man? I tried to explain to my husband that part of my reaction was due to shock. I described my small, stout, bald man, confessing that I had no idea where I had come up with such a picture.
Having shared with some friends, Christian friends, that I have read and enjoyed “The Shack”, I have found myself involved in a dispute. They think the book is poking holes in the Christian faith. One of the main characters in the book is Papa, or God, but is not described in a familiar, masculine way. It took a while for me to stop being offended that his description of God did not match up to my impressions, or stereotypes. That was exactly the point that the author was making though that we see God in a certain way and anything that doesn’t match up we tend to ignore.
A while ago, the BBC produced a series of programmes called “Son of God”. They traced the main events of Jesus’ life. Part of the attraction of the programme was using all the up to date information to construct a model of what Jesus looked like. It was like the unveiling of some great mystery. What the Bible doesn’t tell us, the BBC using the latest technology was about to reveal.
I can remember being very disappointed with the final product. It didn’t look anything like “my Jesus”. My Jesus had definite Robert Powell overtones – blue eyes and long hair. This didn’t look like that! I remember thinking logically that the BBC’s Jesus was closer in terms of ethnic colouring and stuff.
I can understand fully why the second commandment is there – about not making graven images. We need to relate to Jesus in some way. It is when we refuse to change our picture that we begin to become unstuck.
When I meet Jesus I do wonder if I will recognise him. I am almost sure he will not look like Robert Powell. It will not be from the colour of his eyes, or his hir that I will know him. Perhaps it will be the welcome that is expressed though them.