Biblical Action Figures

If you’ve ever felt distant from Jesus, have I got the toy for you – the Jesus Action figure (not to be mistaken with the Jesus Bobble-head) is now on sale at your local Wal-mart. There’s also Moses, Noah, Esther and more….

“If you go in a toy aisle in any major retailer, you will see toys and dolls that promote and glorify evil, destruction, lying, cheating. In the girls’ aisle where the dolls would be, you see dolls that are promoting promiscuity to very young girls.” David Socha, the founder of the line of toys explains. (taken from this BBC article.)

Now, I’m not bashing Biblical action figures (and I sure as heck think sexy dolls are disgusting) but if our dear friend David has read the book these figures are found it, it seems he would have to admit that not all of the great Biblical characters exhibit high moral standards.

If you recall, our dear friend Noah found himself in a “morally questionable” situation after enjoying a bit too much fruit on the vine. And then there’s the classic example of David, the murdering, adulterous “man after God’s own heart.” I guess they won’t be including Rahab or Mary Magdalene in the line.

So the point isn’t so much that these great Biblical characters lived morally upstanding lives, but that God used them despite their brokenness and weaknesses.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my Paul doll has a date with Barbie.

Working in the Vineyard

Zio and his vineyard

One of the highlights of our trip to Sicily this past May was working in Dan’s zio’s vineyard. He grows grapes for wine on the southern coast of Sicily outside a little town called Menfi.  I felt like I’d stepped inside one of Jesus’ parables.

Jesus words from John 15:5 came to my mind: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” And this truth was so obviously visible as we picked off brown and dead branches from the vines. Those dead branches could do nothing.

The pruning that was more difficult was that of the lovely green sprouts growing below the graft.  They look so nice and healthy! Yet they don’t give off the desired fruit.

It’s just like us. Out of my own strength I can often produce “good looking” fruit.  But it’s not the real thing.  But thankfully, since “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24) I am free to walk in the Spirit.

So, sometimes, I have to painfully wrench myself from seemingly good green growth. But the beautiful news is that I don’t have to work myself to death to bear fruit – I just have to remain in Him and I’ll “bear much fruit.”

…I’m just trying to remember I’m in Him and He’s in me.