It’s true. I found Jesus at the Dollar Tree on 12th street. I went into the store to buy some candy for a movie and had a few minutes to spare, so I walked around the store. As I was walking through the toy section, I saw him. At first I nearly walked right past him. He was in a little plastic box. I was rather surprised to see him. Wouldn’t you be too? It’s not every day that you see Jesus at Dollar Tree.
As I stared at him and he returned a blank stare back at me, he quickly reminded me that this is how most of the world wants him…in a box.
Jesus is safe in that box. He’s not offensive in that box. As long as he is in that box, he’s not going to require you to take up your cross or do anything that you don’t want to do.
Isn’t that nice? Your own personal Jesus who does what we want instead of what he wants.
When you take a close look into God’s Word and see who Jesus really is, he will amaze you. It is impossible to truly describe how amazing Jesus is. Walter Wink once said, “If Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent him.” I couldn’t agree more! This man who is God is so amazingly unique! Have you met the real Jesus? Once you truly meet him, your life will never be the same. Meeting Jesus will change your life.
Growing up in church I became very acquainted with the “flannelgraph Jesus.” If you spent any time in church as a kid, you have probably met flannelgraph Jesus also. When I say flannelgraph, I mean those felt boards that Sunday school teachers used to tell Bible stories back in the day. Flannelgraph Jesus always wore the blue beauty pageant sash, and he always had perfect hair. He was the nice guy who seemed to be a pushover and quite honestly a wimp; he never offended anyone, and he was safe. Growing up in church I got to know Jesus very well. There was just one problem. I didn’t get to know the real Jesus.
However, as I searched throughout God’s Word and sought out the real Jesus, I was very surprised by the man that I found. He is not pushover or a wimp. He is not afraid to offend. And most of all he is not safe.
In C.S. Lewis’ classic book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are talking with the children about the mighty lion, Aslan, who is a Christ-like figure. The children ask Mr. Beaver, “Then he isn’t safe?” Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe? Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
I agree with Mr. Beaver. He isn’t safe, but he’s good.
I am not an animal expert by any means, but I do know this to be true: lions are not safe. Call me a wimp, but I don’t go to the zoo to pet the lions. Why? Because they are dangerous! A lion could tear me apart.
Just like that mighty lion isn’t safe, Jesus isn’t safe either. Jesus calls all who follow him to come and die. He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus isn’t calling you to merely say a prayer and go back to your regularly scheduled life doing the same old things. He is calling you to deny yourself and die to your old ways of living, each and every day. He is calling you to follow him with all of your heart. He has issued a call to come and die so that you can truly live.
This means that when you follow Jesus you have to give up your sin—your lying, stealing, lusting, etc. This sounds impossible, but when you truly trust Jesus, he gives you his Spirit to help you live for him (John 14:26). He doesn’t just give you an impossible task and leave it up to you to do it. Jesus provides the resources to do his will.
He is calling all who follow him to walk the narrow road. It is a rough road, but it leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). He also said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Jesus has certainly issued a call to come and die, but it is much more than that. It is a call to come and live. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus is calling you to life—true, everlasting life!
So you have a choice. You can live your lives your way and follow the “Jesus” in the plastic box. You don’t have to worry about being offended by this “Jesus” or worry about offending anyone else by him. With this Jesus you can be tolerant. Or you can choose to follow the real Jesus, the one true living God who does not live in a box and cannot be contained by one. With this Jesus you must come to terms with the fact that he is the only way to heaven. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life (John 14:6), and apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
The question is: Which Jesus will you follow?
The little plastic Jesus that I met at Dollar Tree now sits in my office. He continually reminds me that the real Jesus is not in a box, and he can’t be contained in one. When I see him in that little plastic box, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Luke 7:23, ESV). He reminds me that Jesus is not safe, but he is good. He is calling me to take up my cross each day and follow him on the narrow road, and he is calling you to do the same.