When I was in college I went through one of those anit-shaving/cutting my hair stages.
OK, to be fair I still go through this stage about every other year. It usually coincides with listening to a large amount of Creedence Clearwater Revival. (Important side note: I did this, and still do this, without having to Instagram, Facebook, or Tweet my stages of overgrowth. Crazy, I know.)
Anyway, that year it earned me an offer to play Jesus in a music video and because I maintain a policy of accepting any and all music video offers, I took it. The result was me dressed in a robe and standing in a large outdoor commons just as classes let out for lunch.
Now being a Bible college, this was a hit. It was almost like the first time the school had a mascot, so plenty of hoots, hollers, and waves ensued. I even got a few requests to turn bottles of water into more entertaining beverages.
Naturally I did exactly what you’d expect, waved back and told them to feed my sheep. I mean, come on. You don’t see Santa breaking character at the mall do you?
Later that same year I went to a lock-in at a friend’s church. One of the kids from his youth group came up to me and said, “man, you look like that one guy.”
“Jesus,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s him,” he said. “Why don’t you go on and part the Red Sea or something.”
I felt like the kids heart was in the right place, however, I began to become curious about my friend’s Sunday school lesson writing ability.
In hindsight I learned a lot that year about what happens when you look like Jesus. Here are a few nuggets.
1. People recognize you when you look like Jesus.
Whether the long-haired, bearded look is what Jesus actually looked like or not, nearly everyone identifies him with it. In a world where we constantly hear that Jesus is on the verge of disappearing, I find it refreshing that Jesus is still an iconic figure like that. Granted it was a Bible college, but I’d bet I’d have gotten the same reception at Wal-Mart or almost anywhere else. Think about it, when is the last time you saw a hippy in a bedsheet and didn’t hear someone make a reference to Jesus?
2. People react to you when you look like Jesus…and it’s usually positive.
I can’t really remember anyone completely ignoring me that day in the commons. Of course I’m sure there was some Gandalf out there who marched by with his head down to prove a point, but he was in a large minority.
Truth be told, it seems very few people have a negative reaction to Jesus. Whether he is their messiah or they just see him as a mountain-man version of the Easter bunny, people generally smile and sometimes wave. Real or not, most people see him as a good dude.
3. People expect more from you when you look like Jesus.
When those folks waved at me that day, they expected to be waved back at. When they smiled, same deal. People that normally wouldn’t expect the sketchy guy who typically showed up to class in an oversized Celtics jersey to give them the time of day, suddenly expected my attention and expected it in a positive manner.
Now I’m not saying you’re required to babysit their kids or clean their house, but when you look like Jesus you may very well get asked deeper than average questions about life and you may very well be the person other folks turn to when they’re in a tight spot. When the chips are down, people may very well seek you out like a payphone in 1985.
4. If you are also drinking coffee, you’ll likely in up with coins in your cup when you look like Jesus.
Simple fact. Just roll with it and hit the vending machine later.
Just to make it clear, I’m not sharing these as a warning. I’m sharing these as a kind of measuring stick to tell if we’re doing things right.
Christians are supposed to look like Jesus. Maybe not so much in the bearded-bedsheet way, but in plenty of other and more subtle ways. This may not always cause folks to holler at us or ask us to heal there strange bleeding, (at least I hope not, because I got nothing for that) but if we’re doing it right, people should eventually take notice.
If they aren’t, maybe we should probably consider a makeover or just take the easy way out like me, grow a beard and get in a music video.