I have a bobble head figurine of my desk at work, it is a little Captain America and each day as it stares up at me with its tiny eyes I am reminded to smile a little bit more. The other night, I was walking through the supermarket and noticed a little Mike Wazowski toy that growled, laughed and made miscellaneous sounds on impact. I gave him to my sister who has been unwell, and her mood changed dramatically. It seems that whether you are a disproportionate superhero or a green monster with braces, you are able to become an icon for someone by simply sitting on their desk. Why do I say this? Because the other night I dreamt of a toy figurine Jesus.
Freud theorised that our dreams reveal the underlying desires of our sub conscious. While I’m not one to agree with all of Freud’s works, the fact that I dreamt of Jesus had me thinking, “Why did I dream of a stuffed, plush toy Christ?”
Let me put this dream in context for you. Envision a busy store. Inside and sprawling onto the adjacent street are crowds, masses of people; think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They are gathered along the foot path peering sideways down the street; clearly they are waiting for something.
The scene cuts (don’t you love how a dream is like a movie playing in your head?) and I see what the crowds are waiting for. It is Jesus, and he is on a float with his hands open to the crowds. Naturally, I am very excited. I rush to my parents side and attempt to see through the shop window and over the masses, I’m on my tip toes struggling to have a glimpse of my saviour, my God, my friend. I see Jesus talking with the crowds, healing people, genuinely looking each person in the eye and expressing how happy he is to see them. He is of Arab decent; stylish stubble frames his face and he is wearing a red plaid shirt and straight legged jeans. Jesus has got style, and not surprisingly he looks much like a contemporary youth pastor; I bet you he was even wearing Converse.
Still straining to see Christ, I am discontent. I want to see him up close, smell him, and be known by him. Cut scene and I am sprinting down the crowded street (no small feat for me, I dislike running with a passion. I may even have a vendetta against it), and run straight into the arms of Jesus. Up close I see the colour of his skin, the fact he is of an average height and that his beard is not nearly as bushy as often depicted. But most of all I notice that my friend has turned to see me and embraces me with open arms. With sweet relief and a safety I had never before known I am held by my saviour. I am recognised by my beloved, I am known and valued above all else at that moment and am singled out as his dearest friend and daughter.
Queue the figurine Jesus. Remember how this rather odd dream began in a store? Well apparently it was some sort of souvenir shop, because at the beginning of my dream I observe a row of stuffed, plush toy Jesus of Nazareth’s lining a shelf. I sort of get that; I mean it is entirely irreverent, but if a child is going to hug a toy at night it may as well be Jesus right? The fact that there is a line of these ‘Jesus’’ and you pay for them is scary to say the least, but it seems part of the parcel of the world (or dream land) we live in. On seeing this bizarre children’s gift I realise that these crowds are not present to meet their saviour, they are there to see a celebrity. It could have been One Direction or Lady Gaga and these crowds still would have flocked and bought tiny replicas of their idols.
To reinforce this point, my subconscious has placed a row of plush toy devil’s next to those of Christ. People are not just buying a plush Christ, they are purchasing a stuffed Satan as well. They want the set.
Even if my dream, I was disgusted. How dare these people flock to a man, my God who I love so dearly, and ‘pretend’ to be interested in him when he is just another method of achieving social recognition? It could have been the complete opposite of the goodness, perfection and mercy that Christ is and they still would have massed to praise the devil for being…famous.
Yes I know I dream deep; apparently there is a lot going on in my subconscious at the moment. Care to unpack it with me?
Upon contemplating this dream, it has struck me that it is easy for society, and many Christians, to allow Jesus to become a plush toy to them, an icon if you like. A soft, malleable figure that can be hugged in the hard times as you stare into his permanently peaceful expression and an object to be thrown away when something new comes along. Christ becomes a fad, a social status, a means of fitting in.
On seeing the crowds who have come to see Jesus, I am reminded of the people of Jerusalem who welcomed Jesus with great fanfare as he rode in on a donkey only a week prior to telling Pilate to crucify the same man. We as humans are fickle, and Christ’s death was a direct result of our need to be on the float instead of watching it.
So how, in my life, have I made my Christ into a plush toy? Often he sits on the outskirts of my mind, happily bobbing his head and staring at me with his piercing black eyes like my Captain America toy. Occasionally I may even allow Jesus to make a noise by throwing; punching or hugging him like my sister does to a small, green monster. As long as I choose when and where Christ is present, I am happy to be a Christian, a tag defining my social identity.
If I do this to the creator of the universe, then how am I any better than the masses of people flocking to Jesus for an instagram selfie or autograph in my dream? To be honest, I do not know how to change this. How do I envelope Christ in a busy life, full of people, thoughts and desires? Does being a Christ follower require me to be thinking of Jesus 24/7? Or does the simple act of allowing his Spirit to speak and act through me during my day qualify me as a friend of God as opposed to the owner of a plush toy Jesus?
Last night I dreamed of Jesus, and I realised that he is far more than the bobble headed, plaid wearing youth leader that I imagined.