The Good Looking White Guy.
Has your heart ever been burdened by the Holy Spirit that resides within you, when you have visited a church or a Christian university and there, hanging on the walls, filling every available space is countless graven images, illustrations of angels, demons and even Christ Jesus? In a local church I recently visited, I counted over 30 images of heavenly things, including several Bibles purposefully opened, not to the Word, but to pages containing likenesses of Jesus. And as unbiblical as it is to create and publicly display these images, it seems as though even our staunchest conservative Christian organizations, such as Bob Jones University, seem to have no understanding of the danger to weak Christians and heathens that such imagery poses. And why is it that so often these images incorrectly portray our sovereign Lord and King as a handsome and good looking white Caucasian, which He most certainly was not? Jesus was neither white, nor handsome!
So what is a wise Christian to do when he finds himself surrounded by churches, seminaries, and other Christians that seem to be ignoring the fact that the creation and public display of such imagery is un-Scriptural? What does a Christian do when every conceivable form of media seems Hell bent to bring God the Son down to our level? What does a Christian do when he finds himself on the unpopular, but correct side of Scripture, and a yearning in his soul to encourage his brethren to practice purity and holiness?
We Christians need to do what we always should do when sin is involved, preach the truth in love and pray that the Holy Spirit will move in the hearts and minds of those ‘round about us. To that end I recently wrote a letter of loving rebuke to a Christian counseling organization that on occasion uses graven images within its newsletters that are distributed to the masses. This ministry is a fine organization that prospers the work of the Lord, but has simply not been enlightened to the consequences of graven images. As my purpose was edification, the name of the organization has been changed.
Dear Christ Like Counseling Ministries,
I am sure you guys get a lot of e-mails, and I am just as certain that you don’t have time to read them all fully, but I ask with all humility that you read this e-mail and consider it fully.
I receive your newsletter via e-mail on a regular basis and find your articles inspiring and edifying. I have appreciated your ministry in the past and look forward to witnessing how you prosper the work of the Lord in the future. My hope in this is based on the fact that your ministry general holds to a Biblical theology and presents a genuine understanding of Scripture.
However, I have just received your August 2005 newsletter and was saddened to find yet another graven image aside your article “The Un-Christing of Jesus”, and as is so often common amongst Christians today, your photo displayed “the good looking white guy”, who is clearly not of Jewish decent.
You may think that you have the Christian liberty to display such images at your discretion, and you may be right if the context was within your own house where this image may not be viewed by the masses. But you have sent this image out amongst the heathens and the weak brothers! Do you not understand the damage that can be done when a weak brother or lost soul sees such imagery? As a counseling ministry you certainly must have counseled people, as I have, who after doing so, find themselves enslaved by idolatry to the images that now reside in their heads. It is often more difficult to rid one’s mind of images of heavenly things than it is to remove from the same mind the lingering images of pornography. Both are knowledge of evil we were never meant to have and a weak mind at worship often perceives the image and not the Divine. This is not good for man, or glorifying for Christ!
Do you not understand that you Un-Christ Christ and detract and distract from Him when you propose a particular appearance for Jesus? Christ, who could have been as handsome as He chose to be born, was born a common looking man, with no outside appearance that would draw anyone to Himself. Nor did Jesus choose to allow any man to describe His outward appearance.
Perhaps Jesus thought it best not to provide us with such a description because we are naturally weak, and as such, with knowledge of His outward appearance, we would gravitate not toward His character, divinity and sovereignty, but we would simply admire Him for His handsome features or external frame. This is not the kind of worship Jesus had in mind.
The Bible clearly says not to make an image of any heavenly thing, yet you have chosen to provide countless people with an image of my great Lord and Savior.
Do you think I am making something out of nothing? Many Christians forgo their liberty to drink alcohol for the sake of conscience toward their witness for Christ and to avoid causing another person to stumble into sin. The Apostle Paul said he would never eat meat again if it caused another man to stumble. Yet Christians and churches today think nothing of the images they portray to the masses. They are causing people not to worship the true and divine nature of Christ, but rather these resulting stumblers worship the little “c” christ they think they have seen. Yet none of us alive today have seen Christ Jesus and we ought not to worship Him as if we have.
Can you still not see the distractive damage you are causing? Let me provide you with a letter I received from a lady I ended up counseling concerning the cause for her newfound fervency after watching the movie “Passion of the Christ”. She was so moved by the movie that she offered to pay the price for anyone who wanted to see the movie. As you read, notice her focus concerning Jesus. Does she understand the Biblically revealed events that occurred on the day of our Lord’s death? Does she understand the true nature of Christ and what He accomplished on the cross, or is her understanding flawed by the images she saw on that movie screen?
Our church went for a private viewing of The Passion of Christ last night, and I am still in amazment. I have read about it and been taught about it for all of my life, but for the first time ever, last night I actually saw it with my own eyes. I saw the agony that he suffered and the blood that he shed for you and me, and I am here to tell you all that it was more than we could have ever imagined.
The actual act of dying was not the hard part of what Christ did for "all of us", it was what lead up to his death. He was beat with sticks and a "cat of nine tails", which if you don't know what that is it is a stick with nine leather straps hanging off the end, and all of the straps have metal spikes and pieces of glass sticking out of them, he was mocked, spat upon, he had a crown of thorns placed upon his head, and the thorns were at least four inches long, and they were pushed into his head until they were in all the way. They beat him until his bones were exposed, and then they beat him some more. Christ was the only one of the three people crucified that day who was made to carry his own cross, he was also the only one who was beat. The other two men were not beat, and there crosses were carried for them, at least the heavy part anyway, and they truly deserved to be crucified, Christ did not, he chose to die a horrible death for our sins.
One thing that really amazed me was to see Christ's reaction toward the people who crucified him. He was so kind and loving, he never had a harsh word or a cruel jesture toward any of them, he never fought back, he was his Perfect, Loving, Wonderful self throughout the whole thing. Not in a happy way, but in a loving way. The pain in his eyes, and the way that he trembled, not from fear, but from pain showed us all just how much he suffered, but through it all there was love.
I know that my husband would do anything for me, and my well being, but I'm not sure about suffering as Christ did, no normal human could survive it. But Jesus did.
Notice this lady is completely wrapped up in the external suffering of Christ, as was the movie, not the fact that it pleased God to bruise His Son, or that Jesus counted it a Joy to suffer the cross. While her little “j” jesus trembled in pain, my Jesus preached “Whoa to you women” as he alertly carried His cross. In the movie the actor portraying Jesus stumbles about and falls with regularity and at time seems bewildered and nearly unconscious. This is the jesus this lady perceives in her head after a lifetime or reading the Bible!
This lady believed she had seen Christ, she was moved by the actor’s jestures, movements, and portrayal. She has read the Bible her whole life and her concept of what Christ accomplished on the cross was limited to His physical suffering as portrayed in the film. She did not understand Christ’s substitutionary atonement. She does not understand that the real pain that Jesus experienced that day was when God the Father forsook His Son when He took upon Himself the sins of the world. For the first and last time in eternity Jesus was not in fellowship with His Father. That pain is simply unimaginable and unportrayable with any form of media. The images portrayed in the movie caused this woman to stumble into sin as she worshiped an image of Christ and not Christ Himself. And to think her church provided her with the opportunity to stumble into sin, and to cause much time being spent in counseling because of the damage her church and this movie caused. Yet she did not immediately perceive that she had unrepentant sin in her life until she had been counseled from Scripture and the Holy Spirit moved her to repentance.
Perhaps you think that one woman falling into sin is worth the greater good. Do you believe we have an inalienable right to cause even one person to sin? And this was no isolated case, in my church alone I spent months working with people to teach them that, like every word that proceeds from your mouth must bring grace to every hearer, so too must every image you cause another to view.
So I wonder if “Christ Like Counseling Ministries” will see the light and cease causing weak brothers to fall into sin by implanting a knowledge of evil into the heads of onlookers by providing images we as Christians were never meant to have, nor make, nor provide to others.
To continue doing so only causes Jesus to be seen as less Christly.
I look forward to receiving future newsletters from your fine organization and hope that your articles will encourage, enlighten and exhort me, as they always have, but do so without the unnecessary use of graven images.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Brother Terry Walker
Providence Baptist Church
Greer, South Carolina