Christians Not of Christ
A sculpture was set up outside a church in Davidson, North Carolina, a replica of a work that can be seen in various places. The sculpture portrays a man wrapped in a blanket on a bench, clearly homeless. His feet stick out the end of the blanket, where one can see stigmata, and understand that this is supposed to be Jesus.
Some residents in the area were not happy. One woman called the police to report a vagrant man in her upscale neighborhood, and then seemed more offended when she found out it was a statue of Jesus. “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”
Another resident was “creeped out”:
My complaint is not about the art-worthiness or the meaning behind the sculpture. It is about people driving into our beautiful, reasonably upscale neighborhood and seeing an ugly homeless person sleeping on a park bench. It is also about walking by this sculpture at night and passing within inches of the grim reaper. These are the impressions that this sculpture gives. I have stepped over actual homeless people sleeping on a sidewalk in New York City and not been as creeped out as I am walking past this sculpture.
You know, I’m not a Christian, and I’m often not the sharpest appreciator of art that you’ll find, but I got this one immediately.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
In that sense, the sculpture is a thing of beauty, and this is coming from someone who is not a big fan of religious art, to be honest. You should consider, approach, and treat any homeless person with the same love and respect you would to someone like Jesus Christ. Thus, Christ wrapped in a blanket on a bench is not saying Christ is weak; it’s saying that homeless people are people. I would think that Christ would love this sculpture.
Unfortunately, many Christians are not actually Christians.
Here we have two people whose first reaction to a homeless person is to call the police or else just walk over them and feel creeped out. I would say that this sculpture is a good test; even if you don’t “get” the reference, if your reaction to the sculpture is to want to get this thing out of sight, then you did not pass the test.
It’s kind of like when you hear people say, “When it comes to turning the other cheek, I’m more of an Old-Testament Christian.”
Again, I am not a big fan of the church, but I am a big fan of a lot of the New Testament teachings attributed to Christ. And it seems to me that if you are going to call yourself a Christian, you kind of have to at least try to adhere to the teachings of Christ.
If you are a Christian, it should not be all about making yourself feel better, and it should not be because someone else is taking care of you. It’s not about joining a club and being comfortably select. It should not be easy. Being a Christian should be about becoming a better person.
Or do I have it wrong?