And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? (Genesis 4:9).
Throughout history there have been many debates on the life of Jesus. For instance, was He truly real, and what was He like?
A church recently had a debate over a portrait of Jesus that a church board voted to place inside their sanctuary. Very proud of their new Nathan green picture, it was prominently placed on the wall to the right of the pulpit for all to see. As one person commented, “Isn’t it nice to come to church on Sabbath and see Jesus?”—a very nice picture indeed, as this painter is very good at his art.
While many liked the picture, a commotion arose, because some people did not agree with a picture of Jesus being hung for all to see in the sanctuary. They weren’t sure it was right to have.
Church leaders were approached in private by some concerned people, but all the requests were denied because “This picture was an inspiration of what we as Christians are looking forward to” one leader said. I’m not sure how you may feel, but a false picture of Jesus is not what I am looking forward to. But I digress.
Some time passed, and it was noticed that a particular new member to the faith has been gone for some time and many of us could not figure out why. Well, one day it was made known that the new baby Christian was offended of this picture being in the sanctuary as a representation of Jesus. Why?
It is worth noting that in the southwest, many converts to Adventism are converted Catholics. It is very confusing to many of them who are told to put away their idols or representations of Bible figures, only to come to Adventist churches and see them placed in the sanctuary and told that’s real. What is the difference if we have a fake picture of Jesus and they have a fake picture of the Virgin Mary? Now, we as Adventists wouldn’t allow Mary but we will allow Jesus. Keep in mind both are false representations as none of us know what they look like, but I digress again.
When this information leaked out, the rest of the Church body did not know what to say about it. Many did not know about the offended new member. The leaders did know and still thought that there was nothing wrong with the picture and that it was nonsense for anyone to get hurt (offended) over this issue. Nevertheless, I remind you, are we not to watch over the young in faith and not make stumbling blocks for them? (Romans 14:1, 20; 1 Corinthians 10:32). If it was indeed nonsense and the picture did not matter then why is it so hard to take down?
Thus, it was decided that a meeting should take place with church leaders to decide the fate of this picture. The question for me is what’s more important, a picture of ‘Jesus’ or a new baby Christian who is a faithful member? The jury is out and no decisions have been made as of yet because we have to follow proper procedures and policies before we as Adventist can decide what’s more important. It is interesting to me how we rely a lot on policy & procedure and often throw common sense out the door.
We see this pattern happening not only at the local level, but we see this happening in high places. While procedures and policies are sought, many are falling away. And many in our church are taking advantage of policies in order to continue corrupt practices. Maybe it’s time for some good old-fashioned common sense joined to biblical sense. Aren't people more important than pictures?
Stay tuned folks. It’s going to be a wild ride in the great decision between a false Christ or a Child of God.
Who would Jesus pick?