Magic Jesus?

‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ John 11:21

Many – if not most of us – treat God like Santa.  We act as if there’s a cosmic quid pro quo, and yes, sometimes karma is a thing.

But even a cursory read of the Bible reminds us that this is not always how it works.  God will not save a dying child just because I beg for it.  God does not cure your cancer if you worship more regularly.  God doesn’t not strike down my enemies, even if I double my financial giving.  God is not Santa.  God is not magic.

Although it feels like a guilty pleasure, I loved bingeing on Netflix’s Messiah last weekend.  In a nutshell, it’s the 21st Century and there’s a charismatic spiritual leader born in the Middle East who seems to perform miracles, or maybe he’s a con man or insane.  Sound familiar? He is called Al-Masih (“the messiah” in Arabic.)  Also the CIA and Mossad are involved.

Some believe that he’s the Second Coming of Jesus.  Some believe he’s the First Coming of the Savior.  Some believe he’s a mesmerizing human being with a clinical Messiah Complex.  Some believe he’s a gifted scam artist.  We will have to wait until Season 2 to find out the truth.

Spoiler Alert:  There’s a moment when it looks like Al-Masih is going to heal a child’s dying dog but instead he allows the dog to die which confuses and devastates the boy.  The point is that “The Messiah” is not a magician who fulfills our every wish.  Al-Masih is “serving God’s will” which is not the same as our will.

Although this is an imperfect series (and some Hate. It.) I appreciate the reminder that God’s ways are not our ways – something God says through the Hebrew prophets – but we tend to ignore/forget/wish it wasn’t true.

God doesn’t fix things the way we want them to be fixed.  This is really important to remember as a person who is trying to follow Jesus.

Jesus came to show us what the love of God looks like so that we might carry on and try to do the same.  The message of Jesus saves us but not in the ways we might think.  Human beings will continue to suffer illness and tragedy.  We will all endure measures of pain and we will all die.  And yet faith comes into play in the thick of all that.  Living in mystery is part of God’s plan – at least for now.

Some of us will be cured.  All of us can be healed.  It’s part of the mystery.

Being present and compassionate with each other is part of our life’s purpose.  I, for one, believe this happens best in the context of church, but the truth is that some churches do more harm than good.  Some teach heresy.  Some make everything about themselves.

And yet God will be God no matter how badly we misunderstand.  If we are serious about living out our human purpose, we will try to understand using tools like spiritual relationships, prayer, service, and gratitude.  If you can develop those tools apart from a community of faith, you are exceptional.  Most of us need to be held accountable in a church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, monastery, kibbutz, or small group.

I’d love to hear what you think about this series.  Love it? Hate it? Feels like Real Housewives of Dilley, TX?

Image from Netflix.


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