Jesus Loves You

The words “Jesus Loves You” has the potential to be as cheap and fake as what I believe this Google Map image to be. I say the Google image is “oh, so PhotoShopped” whereas the husband is in agreement with those who say it’s real.

I can’t see beyond what looks to be a smoke ‘n mirrors version of what should be treated with more respect. Thinking about this, I reflected on an event that occurred while traveling for business.

Every major city, to which we’ve traveled, has restored seedy, run-down historical buildings into tourist-destinations offering high-end shopping and restaurants. The marketing term, appropriately, is “Historical Shopping”. Trolley Square, located on the east side of Salt Lake City, is the self-proclaimed “original”, leading the national trend – the first such project I’d visited. I was more drawn to its historical importance than its stores, studying placards depicting trolleys and featuring historical photographs. Other cities have expanded the concept from a self-contained building like Trolley Square, to entire blocks of buildings, once offering a haven for those of ill repute – the lawless ones partaking of sins grievously offensive to those of a higher calling and standards of former times.

The Gaslamp District in San Diego meets this description. Once home to drunkards, gamblers, outlaws and prostitutes, it was raised from the ashes, now a safer haven for, well, drunkards, gamblers, outlaws and prostitutes except we, in our post-modern politically-correct society no longer call them that. Dusting itself off, putting on a new front to its buildings, doesn’t change sin.

One night, while making our way, shoulder-to-shoulder through the Gaslamp District’s jostling and rowdy crowds, we searched for a restaurant, any restaurant, that didn’t feature a band or a liquor bar. Throngs of people were spilling out doorways, billowing smoke and blaring music following them into the streets. I’m not a crowd person. Never have been. Don’t care to be. I’d gladly eat non-organic, chemical-laden trans-fats fast food, peacefully sitting on an isolated beach, over the chaos of the scene we found ourselves in. Add to that, we’d been duly warned about pickpockets adeptly working the District. With each new touch or bump of a stranger against my body, I found myself clinging to my husband’s back, hanging tightly on to his belt, as he cut a path through the crowd leading us in search of a quiet harbor.

Coming to a stop at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change, I strained to hear his question, thrown at me over his left shoulder, “How are you doing, honey?” Before I could answer him, a hand grabbed my right shoulder, as if holding me in place, followed by a stranger’s lips brushing against my right ear announcing, “Jesus loves you”. Oh, for heaven’s sake.

I am not a surprise-party person. I wiggled around, bumping people on both sides, knocking my poor husband in the back, until I was 180-degrees looking squarely into the messenger’s eyes – a woman who looked surprised to come face-to-face with the stranger she grabbed. I nodded matter-of-fact, “Yes. I know that. Thank you.”

“Oh”, was all she managed to say. I would have expected at least one little enthusiastic, “Good!” out of her before she vanished into the crowd.

How disappointing. Her street mission style, no doubt filled with good intentions and a heart to carry out the Great Commission, was more of a grenade attack, than love. In fact, it was downright insipid. The only person it benefited was her, no doubt giving her an emotional high each time she grabbed someone’s shoulder casting the Magic Words over them, as if “Jesus Loves You” had the power. One can only imagine the Praise Report given by her the following Sunday morning as she announced what a great job she’d done.

I’ve since met a few other street mission people. They’re always well-intentioned, and always immature in their faith, making huge, sweeping generalizations about Where The Lost Are and What the Lost Respond To. I was pegged as The Lost, for having been in the Gaslight District better known to be frequented by those desiring a “party”, when all we were seeking, and eventually found, was a civilized restaurant with good food and candlelight ambiance.

There are dozens of lessons I could extrapolate from this experience. It could be illustrated that the Jesus Grenade, “Jesus Loves You”, falls far short of what Christ modeled. Those who desired Him, sought Him out – the woman who touched the hem of his garment (Matth 9), or the woman with the demon-possessed daughter who fell down at his feet (Matt 7) are but two examples of many.

We are to be imitators of Christ, following His example. Christ didn’t run through crowded, dark streets physically grabbing people announcing His love for them.

Besides, the godless know that Jesus doesn’t love them. They mock and belittle this type of “Christian” message and I think rightly so. It only serves to weaken and sissify a God who is turned into the equivalent of an overly-protective, over-permissive parent who mollycoddles his ill-behaved children. That is NOT the Jesus of the Holy Bible.

It is a disservice to speak of the love of Jesus to a street full of strangers or to light up an entire hillside whether using real bulbs or PhotoShop paintbrushes. It is a taunt, a flaunting of something that the unsaved, unregenerate soul cannot grasp.

Finally, we mock Christ when we speak with arrogance as if we mere mortals can lay claim to His love for specific individuals who have not made a profession of faith in Christ (Rom 10).

Jonathan Edwards said:

God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to . . . their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself. . . God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart.

Google Image: Jesus Loves You – Google Earth

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