DayBreaks for 1/24/14 – Encountering Jesus at the Intersection (Disappointment #2)
Have you ever dreamed of Jesus? If you have, I’d guess that your dreams were of a gentle, tender, friendly, smiling, bearded and somewhat long-haired person who looked a lot like a Francis Hook painting of the Lord. I can’t tell you those things are wrong, but I can tell you that such images are, at best, only partially correct. I don’t say that because I’ve seen him or have any inside knowledge, but because Jesus always surprises us and we tend to think of him in the pleasantest light.
Can we be brutally honest in this series of thoughts on disappointment? Here’s the fact: I don’t know anyone who at some point or another was not disappointed in Jesus. His apostles were. The religious leaders were. I have been. And if you are being honest, I believe you have been disappointed in him too: when he didn’t heal someone, when you didn’t get that job or the A on the test or when the other team won the game.
Disappointment happens when our expectations of someone or something is not met. The expectations may be realistic or may be groundless, but we have them and when they aren’t satisfied, we are disappointed. And what does that have to do with Jesus? Didn’t he say that if we ask anything his name that we would receive it? Has that been your experience? Who among us who became believers when we were young, didn’t try to literally move a mountain or walk on water as a result of that promise (which we took literally and that caused us to muster up as much faith as we could to try such things).
Here is where we meet Jesus – in this unlikely place that is the intersection of expectations and disappointment. The Jesus we meet there is not the Jesus of our dreams. The Jesus we meet at that intersection is the unpredictable Jesus who let his friend Lazarus die, who couldn’t heal in his own home town, the man of sorrows as well as joy. Make no mistake: he is not a Jesus who lacks power to do anything we ask. He may, if I may be so bold, lack the will to do what we ask because we ask amiss. But once we meet the Jesus of disappointment, you won’t forget him, just like you will never forget the Jesus who does miraculous things that totally blow us away.
We live in a world, especially in America, of unreasonable expectations: a shampoo will make us irresistible to the opposite sex and alcohol only leads to laughter and good times with good looking people but never to hangovers, broken homes and regret. We are told that buying the right car is the roadway to happiness and adventure. What are all these things really offering us? Ultimate fulfillment. As media critic Jean Kilbourne said: The problem with advertising isn’t that it creates artificial needs, but that it exploits our very real and human desires. We are not stupid: we know that buying a certain brand of cereal won’t bring us one inch closer to that goal. But we are surrounded by advertising that yokes our needs with products and promises us that things will deliver what in fact they never can.
In short: our culture has set us up for disappointment, and so has the church. American theology combines humanistic optimism with a work mentality that leads us to believe that good little Christians will have the hard times and cutting edges of life smoothed over because we are good followers of Jesus. It has even been encapsulated into some of our hymns: Not a shadow will rise, not a cloud in the skies, but his smile quickly drives it away…(Trust and Obey).
Is that true of your experience of Jesus and his smile? If so, where does that leave someone like Job who had his pathway blocked by God and said: Job 19:8 (NLT) “God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness”? It would also leave out Jeremiah and his belief, expressed aloud, that he’d been deceived and brutalized by God’s purpose (Jer. 20:7).
Tomorrow we’ll explore some of the reason this happens. This is life, folks. This is where the rubber meets the road and where we will either meet the real Jesus at the intersection of Expectation and Disappointment roads and will cling to him, or like many, we will take a detour of our own concoction.
I believe that Jesus still deserves our allegiance in spite of our disappointment. The problem, you see, isn’t with him….but with us.
PRAYER: Jesus, we have at times been disappointed with you when in reality we came with unrealistic dreams and concepts of who you are and what you are about. Teach us to deal with both our expectations and our disappointments and to continue to seek you in spite of whatever frustrations we may have. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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