Would Jesus Invite a Porn Star to the Prom?

(Originally posted on March 23, 2012)

I never attended a prom. Back in my day, with a certain number of credits, short of a diploma, we could obtain a “certificate,” which had no value beyond getting out of classes you hated, which was pretty much all of them for me. Today, you’re just labeled a loser and drop-kicked into the world to fend for yourself.

But prom prep is coming very soon to a high school near you. It’s time for the annual dress shopping and thirty-day diet protocol; time for the reality check that, for some like me, no one would invite you if you begged and paid for a date with the biggest loser in school. It’s humiliating.

Who knows, maybe it would have happened if a guy like Mike Stone had been around in my day. Here’s the headline I caught in the news a few days ago that prompted this post. Granted, our friend here may have had a different motive than Jesus. But who’s to judge anyway?

Teen’s porn star date to prom scuttled by district officials. 

Now back to Jesus. I know, I know, there’s nothing in scripture about Jesus’ prom. Do you know why? Why is there nothing about him from the age of twelve to thirty-three when he began his ministry? Did you ever wonder about that? Well, I have a theory (of course, you do, Linda!).

When Jesus got in trouble for going off to the Temple without telling his parents, that was just the beginning of his rebellious streak. His teen years were just around the corner. The hair instantly stands up on the back of the neck of any parent who has raised teenagers – can I get an AMEN?!

On his thirteenth birthday, Jesus invited all the misfits in the neighborhood, and a few clowns with balloons, to his party, along with his snooty relatives, and they were livid! After that, his relatives refused to attend his birthday parties, which was fine because they were too stuffy anyway!

I’m sure the real challenge for Mary and Joseph was the unexpected letter from Jesus’ principal just before graduation. Fortunately, they hadn’t rented his tux yet. The letter read:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Joseph (last name unknown),

I regret to inform you that we have had to administer an out-school suspension for Jesus. As a result, he will not be allowed to attend graduation ceremonies or prom. We have repeatedly discussed with him the school “rules”, yet he has continued to defy them. We have given him ample opportunities to follow the regulations required of all our students and feel we have no other choice in the matter. Below you will find the documented offenses:

Jesus has demonstrated a refusal to adhere to the precepts of submission to his teachers and repeatedly questions their authority to run roughshod over the troublemakers. He seems to have a misguided concern for the poor, the meek, and the place of women in our society. We have laws and customs, you know! You really need to talk to him about that. We would also caution you to be more aware of these people he is associating with. You know – birds of a feather! I’m just sayin’.

He will receive his diploma by postal carrier.

Regards,

Mr. Caesar,

Principle, Nazareth High School (Go, Lions!)

Now, do you see why scripture writers probably skipped over this period of Jesus’ life?  They collectively decided that teens are too easily influenced by their peers, which could tick off parents. Anyway, back to that dreadful letter…

The letter arrives. Then…that dreaded, you know you’re in trouble, summons,  “JESUS!” (No middle name here either; too bad. Middle names are critical for a parent’s emphasis! So it loses some of its oomph.) But Jesus knew what was coming. “Dad, I can explain.” Joseph was calm and attentive, “Okay, I’m listening.” Joseph was actually proud of his son but contained himself because Mary was listening from the kitchen.

This conversation ended as you might expect – with a parable! (This is where he got the material for his later ministry, trying it out on mom and dad.)

“See dad; there’s this rich guy who prepared a banquet. He first invited all the “important” people. But they all had some lame excuse not to attend. Now he’s furious thinking of the rejection and the money he wasted on those ingrates. So, he went to Plan B. He ordered more pizza, rented a big ole bus, grabbed the servant, and ordered him not to return until he rounded up every misfit he could find. It’s party time! Pizza and beer with true friends trumps wealth, fame, and fortune! (Luke 14:16-24). Joseph gave him a high-five and assured Mary it was all straightened out.

So, I’ll ask you again – would Jesus take a porn star to his prom?

 Of course, he would have (not as a date, silly!), but along with every lost and broken person God loved and the “popular kids” rejected.  And what a grand time they would have had!

Misfits Turned Radical Lovers of Jesus

Jesus called twelve misfits to join him in his ministry. Even though they dropped everything to follow him, all along the way, their imperfections were screaming, “Losers – the whole lot of you”!

Jesus knew they were all a mess. He could have complained to God like Moses did, “Oh, Father, far be it for me to question your judgment, but isn’t there someone else you could come up with for this monumental task? If I’m going to babysit these whiners and complainers for the next three years, how can I get anything accomplished?” But he acquiesced, “Okay, fine. Not My will but Yours, Lord.”

I don’t know, but I’ll take a stab at God’s reasoning. Okay, I’m a liar. I do know because there are a bazillion verses in scripture about boasting and none of them elicit a high-five from God. Which I’m assuming speaks volumes about our stubborn prideful humanness.

I’m thinking Jesus had a list and chose them as the least-worst disciples to pick from. They had nothing to boast about, but they would anyway. At least at the beginning of that three-year adventure with Jesus. Of course, that all changed after Jesus died. Then you see a lot of their teachings in scripture about not boasting. Like 1 Corinthians 1:31, James 4:16, and Ephesians 2:9, just to name a few.

Another question that often comes up is why the disciples so readily followed Jesus in the first place. I’ll take a stab at this one too. Here were twelve guys hoping for a shot at greatness. Surely by now, they had heard of the crowds Jesus was drawing. He was charismatic and charming, and, WOW, those miracles…impressive, huh? Of course, that’s why they went.

After all, this Jesus seemed different from most of the influential leaders of their day. He seemed like a winner they could get behind. Perhaps they hoped for an upper management position. But what do I know? I wasn’t there.

Thinking in terms of the culture today, Jesus might have hordes of people in line around four city blocks hoping to be chosen, as if it was a shot at some reality TV show! Okay, maybe not.

Anyway, we know the disciple’s faith and trust in Jesus waxed and waned throughout his ministry. Except for Judas Iscariot, who checked out early, it wasn’t until after the resurrection that their passion caught fire, a passion that would take them to their own deaths. At that point, they were beyond holding out for a life story that would make them famous.

(Oops…wrong disciples!)

Anyway, think of the difference between the guys who scattered when their fear got the best of them and those same guys who became faithful and fearless after Jesus’ resurrection, despite their continued limping along an uncertain path. That should give us all hope. Why? Because if we are honest with ourselves, we too are misfits, doubters, seekers of power and acclaim, liars, and cowards.

Well, that makes me eager for Judgment Day. How about you? As for my sorry imperfect self, I want to run and hide! My imperfect body makes me cranky. My imperfect faith makes me scared to die. My imperfect emotions sometimes look like fireworks on the 4Th of July. My imperfect mind likes to stay awake at night, reminding me of what an idiot I am – or what a moron someone else is.

Brene’ Brown, in her excellent book, “The Gifts of Imperfection“, tells us it’s okay. How is that possible? She says, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness….I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brown tells us that the gifts of imperfection are courage, compassion, and connection.

When we dare to own our own worthiness, then, and only then, can we reach out to others and use our God-given gifts to make a difference in this broken world we live in. The darkness needs your light. The doubts and fears of your neighbor or coworker need your courage. The hopelessness of the world around you needs to know the reason for your hope (1 Peter 3:15).

So, there’s your challenge and your call to use the gifts God has given you to take into this messy world! Now is not the time to question or doubt that you are called to serve, that you have anything to offer, that you can make a difference.

It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. You don’t have to cure cancer or win a Nobel Prize (although you can if you’re so inclined). Just give your lonely widowed neighbor five stinking minutes of your precious time! Smile at a teenager you don’t know and act like you’re not afraid they’ll mug you. Take flowers to that crotchety grocery clerk you’re constantly judging.

NOW is the time to come out of hiding, shake off that fear, and jump!

Photo by Renan Lima