Saturday, July 10, 2004

42-Foot Jesus Draws Attention Along I-75

That's right folks, just up the street from our house, they are building a 42 foot statue of Jesus off of Intersate 75 in front of Solid Rock Church. 42 feet, that's just short of 5 stories tall.
Here's some info. from the paper: "Bobby Pelleteri spent two days hauling the 13-foot head for the Jesus statue through five states. Even though he got a lot of looks along the road he called the job a blessing. "It's a statue of our lord, Jesus. You don't get to do that every day. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Pelleteri said. Designed by an artist in Knoxville and built in Jacksonville, Florida, out of styrofoam and fiberglass, the statue will be placed next to the church's new amphitheater. Once erected at Solid Rock Church, it will stand 42 feet high with a 40 foot armspan. "One of the reasons Solid Rock exists is to let people know that God loves them. What greater symbol than the King of Kings for people who drive by and see it there's hope? Whatever circumstances they're in, they'll see that there's hope for them," said Ron Carter of Solid Rock Church.

I know, I know, Philippians 1 says that regardless of the motive, atleast Christ is preached, right? Paul says, "I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!"

But a 42 foot Jesus deserves some blog fodder. Here are some questions. Do we even know what Jesus looked like to project his image? What is the qualitative moral difference between Nebechadnazzar's Babylonian Idol and our 42 foot Jesus? Do 42 foot sculptures communicate hope and love? Is it easier to build replicas of Jesus or to follow him? If this isn't one, then what is a graven image that we are supposed to avoid according to out other great moral hope, a visibly displayed list of the 10 commandments? Which one of Jesus' teachings implore us to invest our resources into statues of himself? This is eerily similar to my experience studying in Israel and Palestine watching people worship the stones instead of realizing that He called us to be living stones. Why aren't we content to trust God and live out his Kingdom way of life? Why do we need a concrete reminder? Isn't this why the Israelites built their idols in the desert? Because they stopped trusting God and wanted to compete with their pagan neighbors who had idols they could see and touch? And it wasn't enough for them to put their trust in an unseen God. The idea of being a marginalized people was not their idea of big fun. So as Moses was communing with Yahweh, they built an idol. I am in no way dropping prophetic judgment on Solid Rock, I'm not that smart or super-spiritual enough for that. I'm just wondering as a Christ follower who is finding peace the more I understand that to become less is to become more in Kingdom economy.

I can't help but wonder if the Jesus that I am striving to be transformed into is the same one who is standing 5 stories tall by my house.

peace to you and your house today,

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