In a Peanuts comic strip, the young temptress, Lucy, leans back on Schroeder’s ‘grand’ piano and says, imperiously, “Beethoven wasn’t so great!” to which Schroeder angrily retorts, “What do you mean, Beethoven wasn’t so great?” Her definitive, argument-ending comment: “If he was so great, why didn’t he ever get his picture on a bubble gum card? Hmm?” (this is followed, predictably, by him yanking his piano out from under her). In terms of greatness, I think if Jesus had been a gymnast, he would have been known for perfectly sticking the landing every time, earning straight 10’s from the judges and center podium at the end of the competition. If Jesus had been a team athlete, he would have been both MVP and GOAT. If Jesus had been an Olympic runner, both Eric Liddell and Usain Bolt would have had to graciously defer to his speed and excellent racing skills. If Jesus had been a composer of symphonies, his body of work would eclipse in style and beauty, the compositions of every musician past, present, and future – including Beethoven (sorry, Schroeder). If Jesus had been the Savior of mankind, he would have made such matchless provision that everyone, without exception, could have been brought within the circle of his grace and forgiveness (Oh, wait! Jesus IS the Savior of mankind! And he did offer an unparalleled guarantee of life to all who would come to him). If Jesus had been the Lover of our souls, he would have shredded the temple veil that separated us from intimate fellowship with him, blotted out the sun during his suffering to spare us viewing the worst of his agonies, caused a grave-emptying earthquake to restore friends and families to the renewed joys of relationship, abandoned the tomb, where he spent the weekend, to the elation of those he was calling to follow him (Oh, wait! Jesus did all those things – for us!). If Jesus had been the ‘friend who sticks closer than a brother’ he would have died to prove his faithfulness. (Oh, wait! Jesus did die to show us his fathomless level of commitment! If Jesus had been … well, you get the picture.
If we were the recipients of this manifestation of the most extreme love, we would be basking permanently and securely in his all-enveloping arms (but wait, we sometimes still look elsewhere, albeit in vain, for security: to our income, our bank account, our retirement savings, our government, etc.). If we were co-heirs with Jesus as a result of our Salvation, our Adoption, we would lavishly give away what we have to further expand the Kingdom (but wait, the message from our self-sufficient culture sometimes raises red flags on that kind of generosity). If we, the Church, were ‘engaged’ to the Bridegroom, our every waking (and many sleeping) thought would be on the elaborate and thrilling preparations needed to be ready for the fast-approaching, much-anticipated, Wedding Ceremony, followed by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (but wait, there are families to raise, and travel and vacations to enjoy, houses and cars and boats and planes to buy, and cybercurrency to invest in, and social media posts to keep current on …). If we were … again, you get the picture. Can we say distracted?? PD
An old hymn: “I’d Rather Have Jesus” recalibrates hearts so simply: To have a listen: