theological thursday: jesus disappears

Last night I spoke in Fredericton at what we’re going to call the “nakedpub”. It was awesome. I really enjoyed it. I met some of my online friends for the first time in person. They don’t photoshop their profile pics. They are just as beautiful in person. Beautiful people, inside and out. There were a couple of house-churches/ homegroups there and we talked about getting together again. I shared my cartoons, especially my question ones, and talked about the value of questions. We had a very lively and fruitful discussion. Great times. If you would like me to come and do a presentation where you live, just email me.

This cartoon raised quite a flurry when I first published it just after leaving the ministry last year. Many interpreted it as saying that Jesus has disappeared from my life. Some took it to mean that my understanding of Jesus became less and less anthropomorphic. I’ve always said that the Christ is without borders and without center. I’ve always said we move from certainty to mystery. If the scripture that says that God was in Christ reconciling the whole world to himself is anywhere near true, then one would understand that the Christ is the All in all. There is no thing outside of the Christ and no thing that is not within the Christ. All things. You can’t point anywhere and say, “The Christ is there!” Neither can you point anywhere and say, “The Christ is not there!”

(haha! correction: IT’S NOT THURSDAY! Very tired. Not enough coffee. Not enough brains.)

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About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • http://www.ragingrev.com Matt Oxley

    This is the cartoon that led me to nakedpastor.

    When I saw it I cried.

    It brought back a flood of very painful memories for me, of losing my faith and my relationship with god.

    It still hits me like a brick wall. Again David, I thank you for what you do.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    thanks Matt. It is an emotional one for me too.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    what an idiot! it’s NOT THURSDAY!!!!

  • http://samscoville.blogspot.com/ sam scoville

    When my daughter was 6, the Sat night before Easter we went out–leaving her with a sitter, high school student. Liz opened a closet door and spied the Easter baskets on the top shelf. There was a great outcry and wailing on her part: “There IS no Easter Bunny! There IS no Easter Bunny.! Heartbroken. “Oh, of course there is,” reassured the sitter: ” Don’t you know the Easter Bunny brings the baskets the night before so the parents can check them out, see that they’re ok.” What a relief for Liz. That explanation held IT together for her for awhile. And the high school sitter, who with a fast explanation could preserve the spirit of the belief? Awesome.
    Later she would come to know that “easter bunny” (as it were) is nowhere and everywhere. A great comfort.

  • http://www.gaiaonline.com/guilds/viewforum.php?f=1630&_gaia_t_=1272 Robert

    This reminds me of something that I’m still having trouble grasping and learning. We are geared to think of Christ as purely an external force and being. Something that is alien to us thus completely removed from us. While there is some truth to this regarding the nature of Christ, it misses the point that Christ is within each of us, some are more awake to this Christ within then others. It’s fruitless to search for Christ outside of us, since we will only catch shadows that the light leaves behind. It’s only alien because very few of us are willing to dive into the darkness that is covering that light within and wishes for us to remain asleep. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could continue to dream, but I know that’s not possible now. The best of dreams can become the worst of nightmares.

  • http://reverendmom.blogspot.com Cynthia

    We’ve personalized Jesus so much that he’s become our own (“Footprints”). We keep forgetting that the kingdom is within us as much as it is amongst us.

    Love this one. Thanks.

    P.S. Just bought your book. My 15 yr. old daughter loves it – the highest praise!

  • http://dmergent.org/2011/10/14/reclaiming-family/ Doug Sloan

    “it’s NOT THURSDAY” – alliteration trumps reality.

  • http://dmergent.org/2011/10/14/reclaiming-family/ Doug Sloan

    This is not the first time that Jesus disappeared. In the ascension story, Jesus had to disappear. A miraculous resurrected Jesus was hampering the message, getting in the way of what was important.

    Jesus having to walk with you is a sign of spiritual immaturity. The goal is the resurrection transformation, being reborn to live in the immediatecy and reality of the Good News message, so that your life is the message.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    thanks Cynthia. my book is a hit with kids apparently. beautiful!

  • http://dmergent.org/2011/07/12/reclaiming-the-issues/ Doug Sloan

    A comment I left at “Ponderings on a Faith Journey” by Pastor Bob Cornwall…

    “So how do we, in a way that is respectful, honorable, and up front, invite them in to relationship with God?”

    * By being more concerned with openingly living the Good News than with preaching it;

    * By being the Kingdom of the God here and now;

    * By being the hands and arms and feet and sweat and exertion of Jesus, the body of Christ – by being the tangible and effective presence of God in the world;

    * By feeding, quenching, clothing, housing, including and visiting – being here and now the unrestrained love and unconditional grace of God;

    * By enthusiastically and persistently advocating justice as restoration and compassion as a community norm and hospitality and generosity as a personal norm.

    http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/2011/10/finding-our-religious-voices.html

  • http://theprodigalprophet.com Dylan Morrison Author

    David, same journey, same Mystery!

  • http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/ Phil Ewing

    Nice one: it reminds me very much of a plaque I bought some years ago which is attributed to Jung.
    It’s in Latin “Vocatus atque non vocatus Desu aderit” – translation is “Invited or Uninvited God is present”- People for Others Blog has a nice video on awareness too which fits in with your idea too.

    http://peopleforothers.loyolapress.com/2011/10/25/awareness-test/

  • Darrin

    Dave,

    I still have this cartoon on my office wall. It’s the only one I have hanging. And yes, it bothers some people who see it.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    cool story darrin

  • Jason L

    You , sir, state that there is no thing that is outside the Christ .

    You are mistaken and that claim you are making reeks of relativism/postmodernism (i.e. sellout thinking).

    Jesus is NOT those white supremacists who advocate genocide against non-white people.

    Jesus is NOT in the supercillous and voyeuristic yuppies who find hearing about the lurid circumstances about the death of an innocent child like Kaley Anthony (in the media) entertaining .
    (At least not while they are having that tendency) .
    Jesus is NOT in people who are engaged in child molestation or child pornography .

    St.Paul in the epistle to the Ephesians expresses the hope that Jesus might fill all things . Well, that is yet to happen, it has not happened yet , for there would have to be a transformation of all things .

    Such transformation may be here in seed form , but it is not yet here . The attitude of seeking some sort of weird , ambivalent/ambiguous balance or middle ground between any given polar opposites …which characterizes the current zeitgeist of relativism/ the postmodern turn , is indeed evil and contrary to the goal of Jesus filling all things .

    If there is to be a universal reconciliation between all creation and Jesus (which is something God hopes for ), and we should all hope for , then we ought to reject that goofy notion that good and bad are some sort of mere perspective , somehow relative to mere opinion , and reject the inchoate notion of seeking balance between opposite qualities in regard to ethics .

    Jesus taught , ‘Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. ‘

    He did *NOT* teach be ye tolerant of ambiguity .

  • Rhonda Sayers

    is it Thursday in Australia…;-)
    but seriously…I have just started a book and in one part it is talking about the seasons of our life long walk with the Lord, in fact I just read it yesterday.
    I found it comforting that this is a common and natural cycle.

  • http://dmergent.org/2011/10/14/reclaiming-family/ Doug Sloan

    …and God is never ambiguous?

    What is “perfect?”

  • http://samscoville.blogspot.com/ sam scoville

    “perfect” – literally, complete, done, over with, per-fashioned, per-fected: it is finished. “Daddy,
    I’m finished” says my daughter figuring out the relationship between butt and potty. Perfect.

    Manners of speaking, so to speak.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and int he knowledge of the son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we sill in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

    Paul to the Ephesians
    (real guy to real people in a real place about a real Christ who is everywhere)

  • Tiggy

    Mr. Jason (Sir), what you are talking about is illusory. Nothing can separate us from the love of God – even being a white supremacist or, indeed, a yuppy. Their own illusion is that they are outside of Christ. If they realised this, then they would change. But I think we are dealing with semantics so I can’t be arsed to get into a debate about it – anyway, I need a cup of tea.

  • Sarah

    For me it’s been a question of growing up, finding my own 2 feet, and getting away from the personal.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    This cartoon hits home for me as well. Well done.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    thanks tgm. and sarah.

  • http://www.throughthestorm.wordpress.com Wayne

    Well, when I opened this cartoon here in Australia, it was Thursday.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    sweet. maybe i’m an aussie?

  • Jason L

    Mr.Sloan ,

    God is *never* ambiguous.

    To ascribe ambiguity to God is insulting to God .

    God is light and in Him is NO darkness at all .

    What does light do.? Well amongst other attributes it displays, light reveals the precise contours and boundaries of given spaces .

    Perfection is a maximization of the tendencies for all the virtues of thought and action that a given agent is aware of , and capable of manifesting . Maximum Rectitude coupled with altruistic benevolence .

  • Jason L

    Hello Tiggie .

    White supremacists and trendy yuppie conformists are often NOT people who have earnest ignorance , but often have *willful* ignorance, people who intentionally gloss over the LACK of foundation for the notions and lifestlye which they espouse .

    They often likely have a wanton, intentional disregard for the precepts taught in the Sermon on the Mount .


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