During a recent Impact Tour trip to Dublin Ireland we came across a Jesus sculpture that just struck me as a perfect example of the times. At Dublin Christ Church Cathedral, a bronze sculpture depicts a park bench with a faceless cloaked figure lying on it. It depicts Christ hidden under blankets – his identity known only by the holes in his feet. The sculpture is located directly in front of the cathedral in full view of the public.
The seven foot wide “Homeless Jesus” sculpture was presented to the people of Dublin by an anonymous North American benefactor and was created by sculptor, Timothy Schmalz of Canada.
It occurred to me that this sculpture was especially appropriate for the times in Ireland specifically, and Europe more generally, as it symbolizes the shroud that has come to define the Gospel throughout the continent. Rather than embrace the warmth of the light of Christ, most Europeans have simply wrapped Him in a cold blanket to be parked on somewhere on a bench of irrelevancy. The fact that this “Homeless Jesus” is displayed on a bench in front of a very prominent church stands as just a further evidence of societal rejection of the truth of Jesus’ message.
When I first saw this sculpture lying there, I was afraid to touch it, thinking that it was a real person in some kind of “performance art”. It took some time to carefully study what was in front of me and get comfortable with it. And that gave me some insight into the hearts of those we have the opportunity to bring Jesus to in Europe. At first they will find it to be a mysterious shroud. They might even be put off by it. And so, as we have opportunities to come alongside Europeans, as on our Impact Tours, we have the privilege of reflecting to them a very different view of Jesus. After all, we too are sculpted creatures, aren’t we? We are God’s sculptures – created by him in his image to reflect his glory. We have the privilege, dare we say, of being sculpted to portray “Attractive Jesus”.
That “attractiveness factor” is something I want to keep an eye on in my own life. Don’t you as well? I’d love to see the day when tens of thousands of “Attractive Jesus’” are walking the streets of Dublin. Won’t it be great when “Homeless Jesus” is referred to as “that was then”, and Attractive Jesus is referred to as “this is now”!