“Inflatable Jesus” – December 2011
I was in Bel Air the other day and I saw it on one of the side streets… an inflatable manger scene … now maybe you have seen them all over the place, but I believe this was my first. It is not that there aren’t still manger scenes around. There are plenty. Just drive around and you will see Joseph, Mary, Jesus, shepherds, animals and some premature wise men, alongside Santa, Snoopy, some light-up head-bobbing reindeer and much, much more!
What was striking was that Jesus has become an inflatable Christmas ornament. The homeowner can go out, turn on the fan, and up comes Jesus. Turn off the fan, and Jesus deflates to a flat position on the front lawn. I suppose Jesus could even be blown down by a wind storm.
I think inflatable Jesus is a powerful symbol of American religion and its crass, unholy, cheap view of the Christ. Jesus as someone who is all air and no real substance, who makes no demands, who has no power to help me stand in the difficulties and trials of life. Jesus as weak and wimpy, flat and unimpressive. Sometimes even we as Christians can buy into this, and as Jesus becomes for us, our own faith can take on an inflatable nature as well, as we seek a new experience, a new theology, an inspirational speaker or a great conference to keep us from falling flat, rather than trusting Jesus and walking in the established patterns of obedience laid out for us in the Scriptures … The Scriptures also provide for us a more accurate picture of Jesus, as the one upon whom our whole life depends and upon whom our whole life can be built. Mary is told: “He [Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
We serve a King who needs no inflating to rule with authority, power, faithfulness, goodness and mercy. We serve a King who is all substance, all truth – and no air. We serve a King who suffered and died so that we might live. And try as it might, the world cannot blow Him down, devalue Him … He stands in victory over His enemies, Satan, the world, even death itself … and He brings His people with Him. May the Lord bless us as we serve this Jesus, living lives of faithful, thankful obedience before a watching world.