A co-worker sent this link to several of us and asked for our thoughts. Perhaps you have you have already seen the story or heard the buzz. This story is about a billboard that supposedly depicts Jesus sporting tattoos. Here is my comment:
I read this statement yesterday and found it to be surprisingly appropriate to this discussion, The author was writing about the church at the end of the first century; "The process of accommodation to the values of the dominant culture continued unabated for the next several centuries..." (Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why it Matters Today by Joseph H. Hellerman). His point was that the early Christians were known for their counter cultural message. Unfortunately, it did not take long for assimilation and syncretism to set in.
One might argue that a tattooed Jesus is counter-cultural. No doubt the intent was to show that Jesus came to "seek and to save the lost." But this image is radical only if the dominant culture is one of white shirts, ties, and wing tips. This is obviously not the case. In fact, body art is embraced by the culture in ways previously unknown. So, a picture of a tattooed Jesus should certainly come as no surprise.
May be the larger is this: why are people upset because their favorite rendition of Jesus is being defaced? Since when did we learn what Jesus actually looked like? The billboard merely shows a man who represents what we have embraced as the image of Jesus, without any empirical evidence.
What is even more disturbing is this: when did it become OK to violate the 2nd commandment and revere images as representations of God? The uproar over this is telling.