Which Jesus do you like better?

Last night I went to see "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and while I couldn't write a whole review about it, I did hear one worthwhile question in the film.

Possibly the funniest scene in the whole picture, (which says something since Will Farrell is brilliant at blurring the line between stupid funny and making people laugh at both) is the first time we see Ricky Bobby's family sitting down for dinner together. Ricky says grace, thanking God for his wife, sons, fast food and "21.2 million dollars" and he addresses each part of the prayer to "baby Jesus" or "infant Jesus" or "little Jesus in your cradle." His wife, both impatient to eat and disagreeable about the theology, interrupts to remind him that Jesus grew up and became a man, and so one doesn't always have to pray to the baby.

"But I like the baby Jesus best," is Ricky's reply. Then the whole table jumps in, stretching grace to five or six minutes on screen, talking about how they like best to picture Jesus.

So which Jesus do we like best? And does Jesus in fact represent different things to us at different stages of his life? Baby Jesus is innocent; teenager Jesus is rebellious, but in a good way; grown-up Jesus is wise; dying Jesus is merciful.

Is it appropriate to look at Jesus in so many different ways? Should we focus only on the grown-up attributes, or look for the ways his infancy, childhood, adolescence give us clues about him? Does it deepen our faith to attach to one part of Christ's life, or does it only rob us of the wrestling we experience with putting the whole story together?

Which Jesus do we like best? And does that show in our ministries?


erinjo said...

i like the one that opened his eyes and sucked in a breath of air after being three days dead. he's the one that saved me from what i deserve eternally, and shared the gift of grace with us all.

makes me think of that song we would sing at camp..one of the tanzanian counselors taught us it i think..."my God is not dead, no he is alive..my god is not dead no he is alive....Jehovah is not dead..." do you remember it?

i'm glad you got something out of the movie - i've heard mixed reviews and i think we've decided to wait till dvd if we watch it at all.

it's an interesting question you ask, because at different moments in my life i relate to Jesus in different ways. good insight.

Isaac, The Rookie said...

Oh, I so remember that song. It's on my list of things to teach my young musicians so I can spread it through St. Louis-- there's so much vibrancy in that song. Thanks for bringing it to mind, Erin!

waynester said...

Now that you mention it Isaac, I think I've put Jesus in a box by thinking of him predominantly one way--the problem solver. Like a Dr. Phil or Oprah or some mystic medicine man. When I have a problem, I assume it is because I have have strayed from Jesus and so I try to be especially repentant. I assumed if my life was problem free I was living right. That's why I have tried to play it safe and not take chances or risks. Now I see that the most faithful people that have ever lived have faced the biggest problems. Overcome? Yes. But that's gravy to just having the relationship and not giving up or in or running from trials and tribualtions. Problems will come and go. Jesus is forever. He is more that a problem solver. He is "I Am"! Sort of Mark 6:50. Thanks for helping to take the plank out of my eye. Sort of Matthew 7:5.

Isaac, The Rookie said...

Wayne: Jesus is a lot more than any of us realize. That was one of the points we pondered on the mission trip this year, where the theme was "Full Service: A Jesus Attitude." We've all got these incomplete, fuzzy pictures of Christ that won't get filled in until we reach Heaven, but until then God loves to hear us ask and get to know His Son better-- that's the essence of relationship.