Officials at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio say they'll rebuild a 62 foot tall statue of Jesus, destroyed by fire last night. The Hamilton,Ohio Journal News reports that lightning struck the statue during a severe thunderstorm causing 700-thousand dollars in damage to the structure and the church theater behind it.
The statue has long been the center of controversy and jokes because of its size, with some calling it "butter Jesus" and others "touchdown Jesus" because of its outstretched hands. This morning, social media outlets are filled with gallows type humor about its destruction. With all due respect to my friends who think it's funny, I just don't see the humor behind the loss.
First of all, as a Christian, I find the burning of any statue that depicts Christ to be tragic. I also don't find a 700-thousand dollar loss to any church to be particularly funny, since that is a huge amount of money for any non-profit to absorb. While I understand that art appreciation is subjective, and the sheer size of this particular icon on I-75 has fueled the controversy, it's the oversight of what the statue symbolized that bothers me.
Yes, a statue is just a statue, but there seems to be a mean spiritedness about this one, and sadly from many people who call themselves Christian. It was a statue of Jesus Christ! How can you call yourself a person of faith if you mock the destruction of a religious icon, even if you thought it was ugly? Living in nearby Hamilton, which is known as the Sculpture capital of Ohio subjects me and my neighbors to hideous displays of artist's art. However, even though I find many of them distasteful I would not find it funny if their hard work was burned to the ground.
I find it odd that as the disgust over "the Jesus" continues that most who are laughing have never complained about the towering sign just south of the church, that promotes Hustler Hollywood and pornography. Sure,for some, the argument is the same old mantra that adults have the right to view porn if they wish. Perhaps that's true, but likewise, church leaders have the right to build a 62 foot tall statue of Christ if they wish, and at least "the Jesus" didn't promote the degradation and over-sexualizing of women. I find it a bit disappointing that Christians and otherwise decent human beings don't seem to get this. Personally, I'm glad the church has decided to rebuild.
If the Solid Rock Church's decision to build the statue was to get people talking about God, then "the Jesus" fulfilled it's purpose, and is continuing to do so even though it's gone. As I drove by the wreckage this morning, I was amazed at the number of people standing on the side of the interstate, photographing the scene. Perhaps they wanted a momento of their joy over its destruction. Perhaps they were saddened because the statue of their Lord is gone.
For me, I won't debate the validity of the art, and I won't laugh in the face of it's ruin. Instead, now that I've said my peace, I will simply borrow the words from Joshua, Chapter 24:15 which says: "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." I think this verse says it best, and I will continue to serve Him, even if He's six stories tall.