Even if you hate cars you will have heard of Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of Top Gear and probably as well known for his non-pc turn of phrase. Illustrated most recently when he commented about public sector workers who were on strike that they should all be shot, a comment which attracted over 21,000 complaints. It is not the first time he has managed to offend, he has been in trouble for his description of Gordon Brown, his comments about India, truck drivers, George Michael and Welsh.
Clarkson is a local Doncaster lad done good but he is definitely a Marmite man, you either love him and find his comments funny or you can’t stand him and find his opinionated comments offensive.
And Christianity, the church, God and Jesus have not escaped his opinions. In one episode he said he would like to consider Ferrari as a scaled down version of God, and in one episode he “took on God” in a race from Lands End to Penzance in the time it took from Sunset to Sunrise, a section which ended predictably with Jeremy winning and calling God a loser.
So what would Jesus say to Jeremy Clarkson?
A conversation over a meal.
You might expect Jesus to blank Jeremy, after all at times his comments have been racist, sexist and verged on blasphemous, but Jesus was notorious for spending time with just such people. He ate with the religious and irreligious, with those who loved others and those who did not. Popularity or unpopularity didn’t determine who Jesus spent time with, neither did what they had done in the past.
In the gospels we see Jesus spend time with people like Zacchaeus and Levi deeply unpopular because of their political views and morals. Those others found offensive Jesus spent time with, accepted, welcomed, and spoke to.
But what would Jesus say to him?
Perhaps Jesus would start by talking to him as he did to the man in the crowd concerned about money; Luke 12:13-21. I think he would remind him that riches, fast cars etc aren’t where real security lies. They are gifts from God to be enjoyed but there is a bigger question to answer; has he thought about God. Has he thought about life beyond this life, when the fast cars and money are gone. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
Jesus was always adept at knowing what people’s problems with the gospel were and here I think Jesus would want to talk to Jeremy about the nature of God, because Jeremy is like most of us our view of God is wrong and therefore how we relate to him is wrong.
I think Jesus would tell him a story from Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar was King of Babylon and had a dream and in the dream he sees a tree large and strong which is chopped down and left as only a stump. Only Daniel can interpret the dream; it is a warning that God is the real King, he is more powerful than Nebuchadnezzar and he will not be mocked, that Nebuchadnezzar will be humbled, lose his kingdom and become like a wild man. But Nebuchadnezzar ignores the dream warning. And the words come true, read v28-37.
Nebuchadnezzar the most powerful king on the planet at the time realises he cannot take on God, that God is all powerful, and that the only right response is to humble himself and recognise that.
Jeremy like many of us has a wrong view of God. God is not weak, God isn’t distant, he’s not disinterested. God is all powerful and he rules and reigns and cares deeply about the world and about individuals. And as Jesus says in Luke one day we will stand before this Almighty God and have to give an account of ourselves. But just as Nebuchadnezzar is warned so are we; that warning is not in the form of a dream or a vision but in the form of his Son.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Jesus would want Jeremy to understand the true nature of God and the wonder of what he has done, his plan of to save, and to know acceptance, a plan that is greater than any other the world has ever seen.