In an effort to reach the masses, Christians lose touch…with reality. The web site Teenage Jesus is a prime example of how far off the boat North American Christianity has jumped.

I appreciate the sentiment of trying to reach your children with the Gospel. HOWEVER, what ever happened to getting involved in your kids’ lives? The Gospel is not only relevant if you dress it up…

The web site explains that the Bible doesn’t say anything about Jesus’ teen years. So is the answer to fill it in with non-sense? If we take the admonition from 2 Tim 3.16-17 correctly we would not denigrate the Bible to irrelevancy. Instead, we would seek to apply it to life…This is an attempt. A failed one, though.

Who really cares about Jesus’ teenage years? Satan has used areas where the Bible is silent to open up the door to speculation that leads people away from the solid food of the Word.

I am not angry…I am disappointed. Let’s not speculate. Let’s seek to rightly understand what God has already given us. Let’s not waste time with endless genealogies and tales that only hurt the hearers.

[HT: Purgatorio ]

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This post has 11 Comments

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  1. Wow… Jesus looks so handsomely American, not to mention the blonde hair (wonder where he goes to get it cut like that?) and the tattoo. I always thought he was Jewish, but I guess the Bible is wrong about that and this guy is right.

    These questions he suggests about Jesus’ life… what church is he attending that leaves stuff like this open to interpretation?

    Did Jesus ever get punished for
    misbehaving?

    Did he have a girlfriend? What kind of girl would he have wanted for a
    girlfriend?

    How did he learn the languages he would later use to talk to people from many nations and walks of life?

    At least this artwork isn’t being sanctioned by a pastor, church, or denomination. I’m sure a few Episcopal churches are already placing bids to have him do a mural. :)

  2. I thought it was vary chico. The tat was not whitey… Jesus is my homie!

    Anyways… I don’t see how that is bad. We each see Jesus as somemwhat like ourselves, why couldn’t he have a tattoo? Or a shaved head (bleached hair)?

  3. haha

    I would say the bible is not silent about Jesus’ early and teen years:

    Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

    At some point he must have read and memorized the scriptures that he used to rebuke the devil and that he used in his ministry. He also displays some knowledge of the history of judaism.

    Luke 2:52 is basically years of hardcore studying. You’re not going to get a bunch of kids that don’t want to hear about God to pump up your youth ministry and make a name for yourself it that’s what you have to offer. Even though that is what they actually need.

    Did they have silicone back then?

  4. I would say that it stems from a desire to be relevent, but in so doing the artist has become irrelevant and irreverent. We respect history and we need to appreciate the fact that Jesus came as a Jew from the seed of Abraham from the stump of Jesse to fulfill all that was prophesied.

    I am not trying to pick on people for trying to be relevant. I am excited when people attempt to contextualize the message of the Gospel. HOWEVER, there is a point where the message must not be interpreted to our own fancies. I agree with iconoclasm, Christ was growing in the knowledge of the Scriptures experientially. Why didn’t the writers write more? Are we missing something essential to our faith? I believe they didn’t write more b/c all that needed to be said was said regaridng Christ’s teenage years.

    It is fun to think about it, but it veers near the edge of heresy…Christ was extremely relevant to tax-collectors and the irreligious without taking on their actions. I think so many churches try to dress up Christianity in fine garb…and when they try to be relevant they end up getting it all wrong – like parachute pants in the 90’s!

  5. Ha! Parachute pants. I love me some Hammer pants too…

    Is there anything inherently wrong with speculating about Jesus’ teenage years? Probably not. Let’s face it – Jesus is fascinating. However, the danger I see repeated in things like this is that attempts to become relevant often end up stepping into relativity… or heresy.

    It’s sorta novel to picture a teenage Jesus and dress him up just like us. But I say we should stick to what we know. The question we are really asking is “what is God like?” Our answers need not be speculative.

  6. Tattoos were forbidden by the Mosaic law, which is part of the Bible. However, I wouldn’t say the Bible as a whole, as it is fulfilled by Christ, forbids tattoos.

    That’s a good point about Luke 2:52. Besides that one, we also know that Christ lived without sin, never married, and we can be almost certain he followed in his earthly father’s footsteps as a carpenter. As a faithful Jew, he naturally memorized plenty of Scripture because that’s what people did back then. They didn’t have gospelcom.net or a copy of the Bible on their Palm Pilots to look up Scripture on the fly ;-)

  7. Links are fixed…sorry about that. Thanks, reapolitiklr!

    As for the questions re: tattoos…it’s a great one. It has to do with how one understands the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments. Some people make a direct link and say that the Mosaic Law should be obeyed to a “t” (these are called theonomists). Others says the entire Old Testament is abolished and we don’t have to follow one jot or tittle anymore (the folks that will not read the Old Testament in their services or have instruments because it is not prescribed in the New Testament).

    What we have to do is navigate through both of these. Like you said, Jason, Jesus fulfilled the Law…but in what way. That is what we need to figure out for life and practice as New Testament believers.

    I love the dialogue, perhaps we can continue…
    Like van.diesel said, we don’t have to speculate when it comes to who God is and what he requires of us. He has given his Word and written it down so we can see for ourselves. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with speculating about Jesus’ life, we border on the line of unbelief in the sufficiency of God’s Word when we do.

  8. Jason- that’s a great point about carpentry! He was learning to join two pieces of wood together. He might have been a sort of carpenter’s helper, doing the less complicated or tedious tasks such as cutting 20 pieces of wood to a certain size.

    A little defensive about the tatoos aren’t we? Does someone have a heart tatoo reading “mom”? I just wanted to clear up that I’m not a Judaiser. Notice I said “forbid” and not “forbids”. I however follow much of the Old Testament law to the letter and refuse to do otherwise. For instance, not touching feces or carcasses, hand washing, making idols, not eating buzzards, not cross dressing, etc.

  9. Well, I’m sure the irony of Jesus being a carpenter and dying on a wooden cross is not lost on anybody. Do you think that when the soldiers would nailing it together that he interrupted them and said, “Now, you need to put another nail in here or it’s not going to hold up.”

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Less Hype. More Humility.

Please. Embedded in our consumeristic culture, there is the assumption that newer is better than older–though I prefer aged beef and cheddar to new. There is the assumption that grand and renovated and powerful is preferable to meek and lowly and weak.

The church often adopts this form of communicating in an effort to gather people into its doors. “God is doing awesome things here at Church _______.” The fact is that God is doing awesome things everyday and everywhere. He’s sustained your life. He’s given you sight and hearing and legs. And if you have none or only one of these, he’s still given you life and a mind to engage the world around you. Truly miraculous. What is more, is God not also doing something in the old, decrepit church that meets faithfully every Sunday? Is God not at work in the mundane? Is the changing of laundry and washing of dishes and working through an argument devoid of God’s presence?

I see so many churches trying to drum up excitement about the latest outreach or project, when what our culture needs is the staying power and sobriety of faithfulness in the ho-hum drudgery of going to a job you hate or a marriage that is contentious. What we need is not more hype, but more humility. More service and less heavy-handedness. We need more gentleness and less power grabs.

If we don’t, what then becomes of the senior citizen who is tired? What becomes of the baby who is sleeping? What becomes of the unemployed and outcast and burdened? They are forgotten. They are seen as less valuable because they aren’t producing the kind of energy requisite for assumed faithfulness to the disciples’ call.

In reality, we need less loud voices and red faces and sweaty brows and more silence and calmness and a deep well of contentment.

The New Economics Will Be People

So I went to a coffee shop this morning and was struck by the utter efficiency they were churning out drinks. In fact the team lead said this much as encouragement to the six other workers behind the counter.

I walked in. Smiled at the barista. Was greeted with a blank stare as he continued to froth the milk and deliver the piping hot skinny latte with extra foam to the drive-thru. I walked to the register and was passed with nary a glance…even when the team lead said “Hello.” No she didn’t look at me, but made sure that her metric of greeting a guest in the first ten seconds was met. A box that is checked. That’s what I was. A large dark roast with no room for cream and sugar. And surely there was no saccharin here. There was utility and efficiency.

In all our pandering for growth our marketing of environment is nothing more than a marketing tool. The timers and grids for efficiency have crowded out the thing that matters. The only thing that matters in products.

You see, the products that are pushed are labeled as though they were made for you. In reality, the products being sold to you have (for the most part) been made for the manufacturer. People have merely become a means to the end of bigger, faster, better.

In the new economy, people will matter more.

They won’t matter because they need to matter to grow the business. Too often companies tell you that you’re important because they want your money. They don’t want to make a difference as much as they want their new car or luxury vacation.

I want to say this loud and clear. In the new economy, people will be the end in themselves. They will no longer be viewed as a metric or a number. In the new economy, mom and pop will be sought after. Because, after all, we all know that the verbiage of how you matter to company x is just verbiage. It’s merely eliciting a response for another end.

In the new economics, people will want to matter. They will flock to the place where they are known by name. And not just to tout the “community” of an establishment. Did you notice the subtlety of that one? No, people will know your name because they know you and you matter. Your name is not known just to brag that you matter and sell the belonging you too can have if you buy your next skinny latte with extra froth…hold the pandering.

We are not there yet because executives are still measuring. Measuring people. Yet, what the new economy will have to embrace is not a spreadsheet or a graph. They will be forced to embrace people. Not to grow their graph. But to grow their own soul.

On Conformity

As much as I hate to admit it, Christians push conformity. Conformity to the wrong things. Being shaped by a group and set of ideals is inherent to being part of a group–be it Christian, straight edge, atheist. But I am speaking about and to my tribe.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of being a part of several different denominations and have seen this shadow overtaking much of the piety of its adherents. It wasn’t meant to do so.

Do you homeschool? The correct answer depends on the group you’re talking to. Do you go on mission trips? Do you adopt? Do you run around incessantly from meeting to meeting showing how you are making an impact for the kingdom?

We have steered far off course when we get away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Of a life changed and being changed by the Gospel. That is, before Christ’s ascension, he said to merely teach all that he commanded. Yet. Yet, much of our passing on of information is not what Christ taught. They are various implications and applications of what he taught. And so,

Might I encourage you to be slow in conforming to the standards? Not just of popular culture, but of the popularity of whatever group you find yourself milling about. The shadow looms to block out the sun of joy and hope. It chokes out the simple call to humble obedience to Christ, changing out a yoke that not even the teachers can bear.