Jesus! I don't write or say too much about the man. For some time now I have held my Jesus cards close to my chest. This is not because I am ashamed or embarrassed to admit my love for and belief in him, but because what I feel and know about him is personal.
Think what you will of me, and base those feelings on anything you choose; something I have written, said, or done, a brief moment that we may have shared years ago, or even something someone else said about me. Look at a photo of my fat head and decide that I am worthy of ridicule, read my book and choose to hate me, it doesn't bother me (anymore).
Just don't dis my Jesus, or somebody else’s Buddha, or Allah, or Yahweh, or even the belief that none of them exist.
For a world wishing to be draped in a garland of tolerance (a terrible word if you think about it), we sure do hate a lot. The Religious and the Atheist, the Liberal and the Conservative, the Coke and the Pepsi; we find it easy to express disdain for each other.
(If you have to be right all the time, then you are probably wrong most of the time.)
Not too long ago I was at a special family gathering at an LDS (Mormon) church in Salt Lake City. We filed in and sat down, filling the room with happy chatter and light laughter. While we waited for stragglers to arrive, a man with authority walked in and introduced himself. After some shaking of hands, he made an announcement.
"Well, the election is over, but if I were made king, I would outlaw tattoos, Halloween, and motorcycles."
My reaction was immediate, even automatic. Without a word or a thought, I stood and made for the door as if deeply offended and unwilling to listen to another word that the opinionated stranger had to say. As I reached the threshold, my father-in-law said in a half-jest, "I think we have all three of those categories here tonight."
The family laughed at both my reaction and my father-in-law's statement, while the man with authority stood before us looking confused. I turned around and sat back down with a smile, believing that I had made clear my point.
But upon reflection, I doubt that the man with authority grasped the message behind my humorous disagreement with his narrow-minded and unsolicited declaration, or my father-in-law’s subtle warning to respect the family that he loves in spite of their many imperfections.
If he is out there reading this, here it is. I hope he figures it out this time.
Since you are a Mormon, I know that you believe in Jesus. You believe that he came to save sinners from themselves. Some of these sinners wear suits, colorful ties, and scuff-marked loafers, while others sport black leather jackets, blue jeans, and scuff-marked riding boots. A good amount of sinners drive mini-vans, work ten hour days, watch golf on television, and check their 401k online every four minutes. Others ride motorcycles, work ten hour days, watch Clint Eastwood movies, and check their 401k online every four days. All of their hearts pump blood, all of them sleep when they are tired, and all of them eat when they are hungry. They love their wives (I hope), care about their kids (they’d better), and all of them want to be happy.
And since you believe in Christ, you believe that they all sin.
You are aware that you are one of them, right? A sinner?
I’d like to think that your announcement on that happy night can be excused by your suffering through some traumatic childhood event. Perhaps one dark Halloween night as you trick-or-treated, your mother was run down and killed by a tattooed biker. Maybe Daddy didn't love you as much as he loved tattoos, trick-or-treating, and his motorcycle. Maybe you loved all three as a teenager, but your parents were zealots and beat that love out of you.
Because as a believer in the same Jesus, I would hate to think that you feel that way in order to be like him.
I’m not sorry to say this, but that ain't my Jesus.
A man that I admire above most (and one that I am sure you wish you could be more like) once spoke of a bumper sticker that had taught him a powerful lesson. It asked of its readers, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”
Full disclosure moment: I fall into all three of your would-be-illegal categories. (stories about each to follow in time)
I am no great study of theology, and I don’t think any of them are real ardent sinners, but I am willing to bet that Jesus, Buddha, Allah, and Yahweh wouldn't hesitate to slap that same bumper sticker on whatever they drive.
And I bet at least one of them drives a motorcycle.