Whatever worship is, this ain’t it. Whatever service is, this ain’t that, neither.
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You’d have to read it to believe it.
In his book The Ultimate Priority, John MacArthur, Jr. told the story (first seen in the Chicago Tribune) of a New Mexico woman who was frying a tortilla when she noticed that its darkened patterns resembled Jesus’ face. “She showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they all agreed that there was a face that on the tortilla and that it truly bore a resemblance to Jesus,” related MacArthur.
Apparently, the woman took the tortilla to be “blessed” by a “priest” (I can hardly type this without snorting) and built a shrine with a cotton-cloud resting place for the tortilla. More than 8,000 people visited and “worshipped.” All agreed that it was Jesus’ face, MacArthur commented, “except for one reporter who said he thought it looked like former heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks.” The reporter, it would appear, is the only one who hadn’t time-traveled, or who wasn’t 2,000 years old, so the poor guy was, sadly, unable to recognize Jesus’ face, as the others so definitively could, based on all the accurate images available in the 20th century.
After conveying this non-event to my six-year-old, I advised, “No one knows what Jesus looked like, really,” and he responded, “Except the ones who lived when He did.” He’s got it.
Next, I did a quick Google search using the words “tortilla Jesus,” with a shocking number of hits. I suppose I could investigate further to find out which one is the real one, or whether the Lord subsequently revealed Himself repeatedly through sopapillas and salsa spills or perhaps has gravitated to Moo Goo Gai Pan and egg rolls. I digress. Back to MacArthur.
. . . Such a distorted concept of worship is not really unusual in contemporary society. Tragically, although the Bible is clear about how to who and when we are to worship, little genuine worship takes place today. In fact, worship is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in all the scriptures, and that is spiritually debilitating. . . .
Let me break the 2nd sentence down a little, differing from MacArthur. I think the Bible is relatively clear about the Object of worship, but it isn’t very explicit about how and when Christians are to worship. I do suspect that MacArthur is right that little genuine worship takes place, in comparison to the worship that is supposed to be occurring here and there, but I’m not sure how we could know, really.
It seems apparent that misunderstanding of worship—both the teaching and the practice—is pervasive. And that is why I’ve been writing about all this.
The double-entendre title of this post goes deeper than might be assumed:
On the one hand, the idea of finding Jesus in corn or flour is ludicrous and was over-emotionally mishandled, to the embarrassment of thousands; on the other hand, the metaphor “seek (or see) His face” also tends to be over-zealously applied in Christian speech and worship music.
I sometimes like to be different, I’ll admit. I say uncommon things, for better or worse. I try to use unique illustrations here & there. But this may be the only time the word “tortilla” appears on this blog, and I rarely use “ain’t” in such a prominent place. Just sayin’.
In one sense, this little piece has been little more than a strategic (or gratuitous—take your pick) break from some left-brain-oriented material on the words in the worship “semantic domain.” In another sense, if what happened with the Jesus of the Tortilla is pondered, it could, as much as anything else I might say or repeat, stimulate a few of us to get on a better Christian worship pathway.
B. Casey, 9/20/15