This is the Cover of “The Millennial Pastor”…
First and foremost – Artist Credit: Kassidy Heal
Allow me to explain…
Title: The Millennial Pastor – At this point I hope it’s clear to you that I am a millennial who is also a lead pastor. Those two attributes are not very regularly seen together. If you aren’t sure what a millennial is, check this out.
Subtitle: I became a lead pastor at 28 years old. This, along with being a millennial, is what inspired me to write this book. Also the phrase “I can’t even” is credited to having been coined by millennials.
#Hashtags: Millennials love hashtags. I don’t really love them and instead use them ironically. I’m strange, and it is for these reasons that I felt it significant to add them to my book’s subtitle. If you want to read more on what a hashtag is, check this out.
Jesus: Yes, that is Jesus! Maybe you didn’t recognize Him in his new duds!?!
Ok, here’s the story…
Growing up I saw this picture of Jesus in the church I was raised in:
I was told as a child that it was very important to be like Jesus. That he said a lot of important things that we needed to listen to and live by. What always confused me was that Jesus looked a lot like me. He was Caucasian, had light brown hair (sometimes I even saw pictures of a blonde Jesus) and light brown eyes (in some pictures they were blue). In reality, Jesus didn’t look like this. He lived in the Middle East and would have had much darker features. There has been an interesting amount of research done hoping to uncover exactly what Jesus looked like. I’m sure a quick Google search will give you any number of images showing a Jesus that looks little to nothing like the one in the image above. The most common one I have found is this one:
This image was rendered by a forensic anthropologist. You can read about how this image came to life here (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/a234/1282186/). All of this got me thinking.
Jesus is one of history’s most central figures. So much is made about Him. Christian or not, you would be hard-pressed to find many credible sources who argue the existence of this man. There are obviously plenty who would contest beliefs held about his divine nature, but the fact remains that most would agree he existed. If you say the name Jesus, you are more than likely going to elicit a response. He can be a very controversial subject and I wasn’t about to shy away from that.
Since Jesus is such a big deal, since so many have such wide opinions and beliefs about Him, I thought I would add to the conversation and share my own perspective. To some extent, I felt lied to when I realized that Jesus most certainly didn’t look like the picture I saw growing up in Sunday school. It bothered me. I wanted to be like Jesus since that’s what I was taught, but what I realized was happening was an attempt to make Jesus more like me.
I think that’s dangerous for Christians to do by the way… perhaps that was not the artists’ intentions but that was certainly my perception. We do it with more than just his image, we also do it by picking and choosing to heed only some of the things He says. I mean, how basic is the command Jesus gave when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Something so basic should be easy for his followers to do, but if you have spent any time on the internet, watching the news, or talking to other humans, you know that we, His followers, most certainly fall short.
This is my ironic commentary on how I feel we censor Jesus, when we make him more like us instead of becoming more like him. I am a millennial, so it made sense to me to make Jesus look like a millennial. This was especially poignant knowing that Jesus comes for the outcasts, the marginalized, those that the religious institutions of the day had belittled with their legalism and so-called piety.
Today, millennials would more than fit into that category. No other generation is more absent from the church than millennials. No other generation (currently, this may obviously change in the future) is more misunderstood by the church than millennials. Sometimes, no other age bracket is more written off by the church than millennials.
We are supposed to be like Jesus if we claim to be part of His church. We are supposed to care about what He cares about, talk like he talks, and act the way He told us to act.
If Jesus came today, who would He spend his time with? See, millennials don’t have a problem with Jesus, but they do have an issue with the church. The issues they claim to have is that the church who says it wants to follow Jesus tends to look nothing like Him…
The church is teetering on a precipice of irrelevancy, but Jesus is anything but irrelevant.
Listen to what Paul, one of Jesus’ most influential follows, has to say on the subject:
1 Corinthians 9:20-23 20 I act like a Jew to the Jews, so I can recruit Jews. I act like I’m under the Law to those under the Law, so I can recruit those who are under the Law (though I myself am not under the Law). 21 I act like I’m outside the Law to those who are outside the Law, so I can recruit those outside the Law (though I’m not outside the law of God but rather under the law of Christ). 22 I act weak to the weak, so I can recruit the weak. I have become all things to all people, so I could save some by all possible means. 23 All the things I do are for the sake of the gospel, so I can be a partner with it. (CEB)
Jesus offers grace and hope to all who will hear and He wants his followers to be the voice that tells this to the world, even to millennials.
Jesus cares about millennials outside the church just as much as He cares about those in the church. Maybe, just maybe… he would dress like one, too…