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Dodge Jesus

April 27, 2001

“What is truth?” (John 18:38)

I saw a car on the road this week that must have belonged to a Christian. I say that because it had one of those little fish symbols on it. (Actually, it had a fish symbol eating one of those hilarious little “Darwin” fishes...you know, the ones with feet that poke fun at the Christian fish?) Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. It wasn’t the fish symbol that caught my eye.

The car had a sticker on it, too. It was just a simple “Jesus” sticker. But it was stuck on the back of the car right below the car’s brand name plate, and its placement sent a message that I doubt the driver of the car intended to send.

Together, the nameplate and sticker read, “Dodge Jesus.”

Dodge Jesus. People have been doing that ever since he came on the scene, right? Dodging him. Eluding him. Refusing to let him pin them down. “I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind,” Jesus once claimed. Instead of coming to him for sight, a group of religious leaders took him to task for daring to suggest that they were blind. “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus answered. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” (John 9:39, 41)

Pilate dodged him. “I came to bring truth to the world,” Jesus claimed. But Pilate had spent too long in the shadowy corners of Roman politics. He had seen one too many versions of “truth”, and so he took the easy way out: “What is truth?” “Don’t try to sell me on truth, Jesus. I don’t think you’re guilty of the things they’re accusing you of, but neither do I think you’re who you claim to be.” To Pilate, truth to him was an illusion. He literally washed his hands of Jesus, thinking that by doing so he could dodge having to deal with him.

Even his closest friends dodged him. Peter dodged him with denial. Judas dodged him with betrayal. Thomas dodged him with doubt. His family dismissed him as a candidate for the first-century equivalent of a padded cell. Oh, there are some things about Jesus that are palatable, even comfortable. But much of what Jesus said and did offends even today. And dodging him is still a popular way to interact with him.

We dodge him in some of the same ways. We still refuse to be honest with ourselves. We still let pride pull the wool over our eyes. This, especially, is the way the “dodge“ of the church. We sic Jesus on the world, but keep him chained and muzzled “at church”. On the rare occasions that we let him confront us, we raise our eyebrows and rationalize. “Oh, Lord. I pray. I sing. I study. I even listen to the sermon. Surely, you aren’t suggesting that I’m blind like all those people out there!”

Sometimes we wash our hands of him. Because our perceptions of what’s true are so flawed, we refuse to trust him to tell us what’s true. Even those of us who call him “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” can live our lives in ways that show our lack of commitment to his truth.

Some dodge him by dismissing him as irrelevant. Some dodge him by entombing him in scholarship, while others go to the opposite extreme and smother him in warm, fuzzy emotion. Some deny him, some dismiss him, some doubt him.

But in our society, the most effective means of dodging him may simply be rushing by him. If we don’t dodge him by choice, we dodge him by default. We don’t take the time to listen to him. We never bother to look in the mirror that he holds up for us. The noise around us drowns out his voice in our ears, his gentle knocking at the doors of our hearts. The business of “real life” crowds out the real business of life: coming to terms with the claims Jesus makes. We can go so long without reflecting on our own sinfulness, or mortality, or fear. We can go so long without ever questioning the values and priorities of the world we live in.

We dodge him simply because we’re too busy with living to come to him for life.

The thing is, we can’t dodge him forever. Jesus isn’t simply one option, to be accepted or refused at our whim. He’s more than that, much more. The world was created through him. He holds everything together. Sooner or later, he will demand your attention. You can give it now while he humbly asks for your faith and gives you life. Or you can give it later when he comes back as King and brings judgment. “At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...” (Philippians 2:10-11). Every knee. Every tongue. No one will dodge him then.

So if you’re trying to now, give it up. Give up your rationalization, your pride, your deceit. Give up your attempts to distract him or evade him. Come to him humbly. Accept him gladly. And follow him faithfully.

He’s pursuing you now. Whispering in your ear. Knocking at the door. Patiently pursuing you. Wooing you with his grace and his love. How long will you dodge him? And why would you want to any longer?
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

E-mail Patrick Odum





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