Tuesday, 28 February 2012
By Andy at Faith and Geekery
When was the last time you checked your spam folder? If it has been more than a week, there’s probably something in there. Go check it out.
What’s in there? Perhaps something about Viagra, a data entry job, blog advertising nonsense, or perhaps even a letter from the Prince of Nigeria asking for $5,000 so he can free up some money and then he’ll pay you back to the tune of $10,000.
If you have a blog that allows comments, chances are you get ten times more span than actual comments.
Spam is easy to spot. It often has caps lock, exclamation points, and a jumbled mess of misspelled words.
There are times when an email from a real, actual person slips into my spam folder and I have to retrieve it out of there, sending it back to the inbox, where it belongs, saving it from the darkness of the spam folder. Sound familiar?
I think there are at least two spam-related metaphors when it comes to telling Jesus’ story. The first is similar to the parable of the lost sheep as recorded in Luke 15.
In this parable, Jesus speaks about a shepherd having 100 sheep, but one of them runs away and gets lost, so the shepherd leaves the other 99 sheep to find the one lost sheep, and there is great rejoicing in finding this lost sheep. Jesus also says in John 10 that He is the Good Shepherd.
If we modernize this metaphor of Jesus as shepherd and humans as sheep, we might get something like this: a geek is checking emails and happens to look in the spam folder. Upon seeing an email that isn’t spam, the geek checks the box next to the email and hits the “Not spam” button sending that email and any subsequent emails from the sender into the inbox.
We are the email confined to the spam folder. Jesus is the geek. The inbox is heaven.
Another way to look at spam as it relates to Jesus isn’t all too different. It’s more of an expansion, examining how Jesus came into our world and what people were expecting the Messiah to be.
The prophecies surrounding the Messiah were well known to the masses. Jewish people at that time believed that the Messiah would come to free them from their oppression and that the Messiah would come from a distinguished background. Well Jesus did those things but not in the way people expected. God always has a way of surprising us.
Many Jewish people thought the oppression they were suffering and needed to be freed from was coming from the Romans. These people did not realize that they (and every human being who has ever lived) needed to be delivered from the oppression of their sins that had existed since the fall of Adam and Eve. And Jesus certainly did come from a distinguished background, the line of David, the King.
But very few people who should have noticed Jesus’ coming really did. People were looking for a war and a soldier to lead it. They found a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. They found the son of a carpenter.
Even John the Baptist required clarification. We see in Luke 7 that John sends his disciples to Jesus to make sure that Jesus is “the one to come.” But Jesus’ answer isn’t, “Yes, let’s march on the Romans and take charge of the government!” Jesus’ answer is, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
Not exactly one’s typical idea of a warrior…
The Jewish people in Jesus’ time were looking for something very specific and they were looking in specific places. They had placed God’s Messiah into a box. Jesus didn’t fit their predetermined notions, so many of them didn’t see the obvious truth in front of their faces: Jesus was the Messiah.
This idea of Jesus coming but not being properly received is echoed throughout the Gospels and Paul’s writings, perhaps best put in John 1:11, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
Think of it this way. We are all emails. Certain religious leaders believed themselves to be “inbox worthy” and that the Messiah would certainly be like them, easily recognizable as inbox worthy. Those who were less important were relegated to the spam folder, where they were forgotten and eventually deleted. Jesus came to the inbox people and they did not want him, so they sent Him to the spam folder to be deleted.
But after Jesus is deleted from the spam folder, he doesn’t stay deleted permanently. He comes back to life and not just back to the spam folder, but He overtakes the inbox and brings all the other lost and forgotten spam messages with him to the inbox, giving them not just life, but abundant life.
Sometimes we feel like spam, don’t we? We feel locked away in a folder where nobody ever looks. We feel like unwanted, ignored, worthless, unlovable, just waiting to be permanently deleted. But Jesus doesn’t think we’re spam. Jesus became spam for us and broke the filter’s chains, bringing us to the inbox, bringing us to heaven with Him.
You are not spam. You are a new creation in Jesus.