Sunday, July 5, 2020

Free Fall

Rainy day people don't talk 
They just listen till they've heard it all
Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell you
They've been down like you
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two
~Rainy Day People, Gordon Lightfoot~ 

You know the type.  That type of person you've met who seems to take delight in whatever trials someone else is facing.  I was reminded this past week of how, although humorous at times, fate has a way of reminding such individuals that there is someone greater than them in control of our lives.  See, a fellow coworker took it upon himself to speak wrongly of another who has been struggling with some life issues.  To me, it felt as if he was almost enjoying the torment the other person was enduring.  Well, I took it upon myself to remind him of the karma catch phrase of the day...karma is a b@tch.  That is, if you take happiness in the plight of those around you, what will happen when the winds of fate suddenly turn against you as well?  For one thing is certain in this life of ours, we WILL have those times where trials and torment rock our world.  How will we respond?  As Christians, we should know that trials are indeed a part of the believers life.  The Lords brother, James, seems to have thought so as well.  For it is James who spoke to us to "count it all joy" when we fall into those times of trial.  Why?  We find out in the next verse..."The testing of your faith produces patience" {James 1:3}.  Knowing this, why would I delight in the struggles of others?  I believe that it is those who have endured who will bless us with one of the greatest gifts we could ever receive.  That is, the faith and belief which they leaned on in the midst of their ordeal.  I couldn't give a spit about someone who, having never experienced trials himself, takes it upon himself to put down someone who is.  Call it karma or simply a twist of fate, but eventually that train of discouragement will leave the station and come thundering down the tracks in our direction as well.  That much we can count on.  

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.  In fact, it may be necessary to encounte the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."
~Maya Angelou~ 

No discussion on perseverance is complete without knowing the end product.  That is, knowing who it is we are in the first place.  There is much to be said about positive and negative thinking and how it affects our own lives.  If I believe, while going through my own trials, that I don't have it in me to come out on top...I won't!  Sergei Makarov, the former Russian hockey player on the Soviet national teams famous "green line" was asked by a seemingly clueless American reporter once about what he and his teammates would do if they lost a important game.  The Russian translator laughed as he translated Makarovs reply..."I'm not for certain, we've never lost."  That, friends, is the confidence of knowing.  When we wade through our trials knowing that Jesus walks with us, we find a unbeatable confidence.  I guess I shouldn't say that Jesus walks with us...but we endure our trials AS HIM {Galatians 2:20}.  Knowing who we are in Christ is a big advantage when it comes to dealing with our everyday life.  Where in this world we will find struggles, fear and anxiety, In Jesus we will always rest in His Love.  This by no means is a guarantee that we have a get out of jail free card when it comes to struggles and trials.  Only that we never go through them alone.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1: 2 - 3 NKJV 


Free Indeed

Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  "Therefore if the Son makes you free you, shall be free indeed."
John 8: 34 - 36 NKJV

What is it that freedom means to you?  Is freedom knowing that you are free to do whatever it is that you want to do?  To accomplish what it is you set out to accomplish?  Or, is freedom simply knowing that you are no longer enslaved to anyone?  We make a big deal in these United States of the fact that we are a free people.  We set out each and every July 4th intent upon celebrating that which makes us such.  Yet, in the wake of recent events in our nation, there may be a certain percentage of the population that would disagree on our proclamation of freedom.  It is these people who may tell us that our freedom is not freedom at all.  For how can one be free and still treated as a lower class citizen?  However, it is my belief that the freedom which I speak of greatly impacts these people among us as well.  I wake up each and every day free to make those decisions which affect my life.  I'm guessing that those who make the claim that America is not free do the same.  Each one of us lives in a country where our struggles and efforts are not only shared, but at times rewarded as well.  There are those times where I don't feel as if I am free in my own country.  In the face of the recent virus pandemic, I gritted my teeth at what I see as the unconstitutional restrictions of government.  Yet, despite these restrictions, I remain free.  I will make the suggestion that freedom also applies to one that is not beholden to a system or behavior.  This is why those who have experienced alcohol and drug abuse talk of that freedom they feel in recovery.  I get it.  I get it because I've been there as well.  I've been there on many a night when I would venture out in search of a good strip club.  One thing is for certain in that I sure as hell did not feel free back then.  Back then I felt more in bondage than anything.  Despite knowing in my heart that it was wrong, I continued on that path.  Then came the day when something in me cried out "This isn't what defines you!"  After that, freedom took on a whole new meaning.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2: 20 NKJV

Very few people can say that they know the freedom which I have experienced.  The difference between now and those days where I did things I was not proud of is like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders.  No longer am I living in the shadow of something I know is wrong.  I will add that that the freedom which I enjoy today is available to anyone who seeks to know it.  This is the freedom which we find through Christ Jesus.  More importantly, the freedom we feel when we realize that Jesus lives in us.  The realization I received that day not so long ago was that what I was doing with my so called freedom was not the person I really was.  That guy is dead.  The apostle Paul tells us in Romans that we should reckon ourselves to be "Dead indeed" to sin {Romans 6:11}.  That man that I once was, that guy who was born into sin...he's dead and gone {Romans 6:6}.  In his place is Christ who lives in us {Galatians 2:20}.  This is the basis of the freedom which I now feel.  I'm no longer living in bondage to those behaviors I once did.  Granted, it wasn't sin which was put to death, but that sin which was in me.  I cannot celebrate Paul's lesson in Romans 6 as the death of sin.  Sin is still out there, but it no longer defines who I am.  I am not a sinner.  I am Christ...Christ in me.  This is the knowing which I have come to know in Jesus.  Knowing that my identity now lies with Jesus.  Knowing that I am no longer beholden to those behaviors I once was.  Knowing that I am free indeed.

Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6: 6 - 11 NKJV


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Lost In A Crowd

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.  So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2: 44 - 47 NKJV

I think it's happened to many of us at one time or another.  We step into a new church for the first time and immediately feel overwhelmed and lost in the crowd.  I have.  With some congregations boasting close to two hundred worshipers per service, it's no wonder how someone could not feel lost in such a environment.  I remember serving as a usher on occasion in my former church.  Besides directing traffic for those arriving for service, one of the duties of the ushers was to be that first point of contact for first time visitors to the church.  If they had a good first experience, we figured, then they were more likely to return.  This continues to be the practice of the mainstream church.  I listened to a sermon this week from a radio pastor who was lamenting the fact that he had received a letter from a visitor to his own church upset that she had never been contacted by anyone in the congregation.  In fact, she had actually called the church office to request to speak with someone and was assured that her request would be taken seriously.  It wasn't.  Finally, discouraged at the lack of fellowship, the woman stopped attending.  How was it that someone who had been seeking fellowship within the church had been lost in the crowd?  Well, sadly, I've been witness to this as well.  One of my concerns with the Promise Keepers men's conferences which I attended and became involved with, was the lack of follow up to those who attended the conference.  Obviously, with thousands of men going to these conferences in their heyday, it may have been difficult to reach out to everyone.  I get it.  However, one of the practices of the Promise Keepers was their commitment to connect men after the conference had ended.  That is, those guys who attended the conference were encouraged to reach out to another guy who had come.  This is how I became acquainted with one of my better friends.  Yet, I still hear complaints from people I know that the Promise Keepers failed in this respect.  I agree.  For many, they were lost in the crowd.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9 - 12 NKJV

I will make a confession in that I was never really too good at gathering people around me.  Sure, I have my circle of friends, but I have never been comfortable with simply, shall we say, recruiting people.  Yes, I talk and socialize with people every day, but in this context there is never any underlying agenda.  When I was an usher, the agenda was to promote a positive image so that all of those first time visitors would feel welcome and continue to come to church.  Sounds simple enough.  It wasn't until a few years after I left the church that I realized what the church truly is.  The church is not the fancy buildings and traditions we've been taught that it is.  The church, as God intended, is made up of the followers of Jesus.  We are the body of the church, and Jesus is at the head of the body.  In this context, how does someone get lost in something they are already a part of?  Think of that the next time you step into a church for the very first time.  As a believer in Jesus, you are the church.  I see the traditional church today as more of a socializing tool than anything.  We may continue to attend because our friends are there.  Again, I get it.  I believe the days are gone where the neighborhood church was the central gathering point for all who had ever heard of Jesus.  With the surge of social media in recent years, people have found new ways to socialize.  This topic may just come down to how much value we place on fellowship with others.  While I've been out of the church for awhile, I still have my friends who I continue to follow up with.  At the end of the day, I believe that it has never been the followers of Jesus, but the traditional church which has been lost in the crowd.

For the body is one and has many members, but all the member of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1 Corinthians 12: 12 NKJV


Friday, July 3, 2020

Imitation Without Realization

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we known that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3: 2 NKJV

Have you ever tried to "be like" someone?  Suppose that you met someone you admired so much that you made it your mission to be like him in all that you did.  However, despite all of your efforts, did it make you the same as he was?  Probably not.  In my young adult years, one of my main desires was that I would never be the man that my own father was.  For my fathers own alcoholism and infidelity had left me with too many bad memories.  For all of my efforts so far, I will never succeed in removing my dads influence from me.  I may not have turned out the way that he did, but part of my father still lives in me.  I am not simply just like him...I am him in a matter of speaking.  See, heredity does not simply go away because we don't like the results.  Now, think about someone else who was also convinced that he could be like someone if he tried hard enough.  Adam and Eve were convinced by the lie of Satan that taking of the forbidden fruit would ensure that they would indeed "Be like God" {Genesis 3:5}.  To understand this and frame it as another lie of Satan we need to look at Adam and Eves condition before they ate of the fruit.  Was Adam somehow separate from God before that fateful day?  No.  When we look into Gods creation of man, we see His fingerprints all over our being.  It is God who formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into Him the breath of life {Genesis 2:7}.  It is God who, realizing that His creation should not be alone, created from Adam a helper "comparable" to him {Genesis 2:21-22}.  We see that Adam, having the Lords presence in Him, was also instrumental in Eves creation.  She is called woman as she was "Taken out of man" {Genesis 2:23}.  The point is, Adam and Eve were living their best life before giving in to the lie of the enemy.  We're told that they communed with the Lord daily in the garden.  At this point, Adam had no need to be like God...Adam WAS all which God is.  Just as I have my own father in me, so it was with Adam.  Now, did Adam know that He was already like God?  I don't believe that he did, as this life he was living was all he had ever known.  He knew nothing else but living in union with God.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me"
Galatians 2: 20 NKJV

Knowing the truth of our Lords creation in relation to the garden, we can see for ourselves the crippling lie of Satan that we can somehow "Be like God."  Folks, we will never simply be like God...we ARE Him.  One of the clearest examples of this are the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians.  Paul tells us that it is not we ourselves who live, but Christ Jesus who lives in us {Galatians 2:20}.  If Jesus lives in us, then God lives in us {John 14:9}.  The trouble through most of the history of the Christian church is that simply being like God has become a goal to shoot for in our life with Him.  If we act right, if we do things in a Christian way, if we are humble...then we can be like God.  Does God desire us to simply "be like" Him?  Or, does He desire a deeper connection with His children.  I believe that we find that answer in the prayer of Jesus in the garden.  It is here where Jesus speaks of our union with He and the Father.  That we may be one "Just as We are one" {John 17:22}.  It is the desire of Christ that we would share in the union which He and the Father share.  This is not simply being like God, this is living in the realization that Christ is in us.  This is living in the knowledge that we live as Jesus (God).  I do not claim to be an expert as to why the institutional church speaks to lie of our separation with the Lord.  However, I know that I do not agree with what they've been selling for thousands of years.  To promote that all we can ever hope for is to imitate God promotes a false relationship with the Lord.  God has never desired that we perform to win His approval.  It was never God who instilled in us the thought that we are separate from Him.  However, is has always been Gods desire for us to live in union with Himself.

"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  "I in them, and You in me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.  Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved me before the foundation of the world."
John 17: 22 - 24 NKJV


Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Human Jesus

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4: 15 NKJV

There is a belief out there that in order to fully understand a person that you need to walk awhile in their shoes.  That is, you need to share in the experiences they have gone through.  While this may enlighten us to their struggles they endure, many times it fails to shed light on the person we're seeking to know.  That may take a bit more effort.  That being said, there is something to be said about knowing the difficulties others have gone through.  If I am aware of the struggles my friend is facing, I have a better understanding of why he is doing things the way he does.  As believers, all too often we are left feeling as if we are on our own as we endure our life situations.  This is exaggerated by the teaching of the institutional church which tells us that our own relationship with God and Jesus is based on how we perform.  Too many times I have heard the message that if I am struggling that I must have done something to displease God.  I remember as a young Christian pleading with God to walk in my shoes and experience my struggles through my eyes.  As if God were unaware or somehow did not care about us.  Again, this comes out of a mistaken belief.  The belief that God is somehow separate from our own life.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The issue is our belief of who God truly is.  Once we wrap our understanding around this, our view of Him changes.  So, who is God?  Well, the apostle John tells us that God {1 John 4:8}.  Paul also reveals the Father to us as he tells us that it is Jesus who lives in him {Galatians 2:20}.  These are scriptures which we find in the bible, yet they are some of the most misunderstood passages I've come across.  As believers, we've been told that God cannot be in the presence of sin.  Whether this is true our not, it definitely affects our own interactions with Him.  I remember the times I needed to find Him, to make time for Him and to seek Him, as if God were somewhere else but with me in that moment.  Again, this comes straight out of church doctrine.  Now, how is it that I need to search for Jesus who lives in me?  This may seem a bit comical, but all too many Christians share in this belief.  I recall a church I once attended actually offering up a weekend retreat to seek God.  Really?  As I've said, this is a mistaken belief on our part.

The other disciples therefore said to him, "we have seen the Lord."  So he said to them, "unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them.  Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, "Peace to you!"  Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
John 20: 25 - 27 NKJV

Do you believe that Jesus simply cannot understand your situation because He is holy and has never experienced any of the human troubles which plague our lives?  Well, you might want to rethink that. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Himself has suffered through what we have {Hebrews 4:15}.  If we accept the belief that Jesus was Himself fully human as well as being fully God, then we also must accept the fact that He went through more than a few human experiences as well.  Simply put, Jesus is not perfect.    Now, before you label me a heretic, think of what it means to be human.  As humans, we do some pretty imperfect things.  Was Jesus immune from all of this despite His being human?  I don't buy that line of thinking.  We need to assume that Jesus endured insults, pain, illness as well as those all too familiar embarrassing moments we've all faced.  Can you imagine a young Jesus slamming His finger with a hammer and yelling, "Peace be with you, dad!?"  Can you see a young Jesus arguing with His parents about something He felt He should be able to do?  Indeed, the human side of Jesus is something which we all can relate to.  I can definitely relate to a guy who belched , farted and got angry on occasion.  Yet seeing Jesus in this way is a tough pill to swallow for many Christians.  This is why we keep Jesus in a box, holy and blameless.  Indeed, He was all of this, as well as being human.  Think of some of your most embarrassing moments, then imagine Jesus going through the same thing.  He got lost, He didn't always do what His parents told Him and He most certainly got the locals attention by hanging out with those boys in Galilee right?  This is the human side of Jesus.  Of course, when we understand who we are in Christ, we also understand that Jesus shares in our own human experiences as well.  We're not perfect, and we share in that with Jesus Himself.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

A Life Of Value

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
1 John 3: 1 NKJV

Like most Americans, I've watched the devastation around our nation as a result of the death of George Floyd while in police custody.  Each day, it seems, brings new depths to which those who march in our streets will sink to.  We've seen everything from neighborhoods being burned to the occupation of city blocks.  Violence and chaos seem to be the rule of the day.  However, what I seldom hear anyone speaking to is what I believe is at the heart of this issue.   How is it that someone would carry such a low opinion of themselves?  Now, I've been around plenty of people who have spoken to some pretty hateful things in regards to race and religion.  While I feel that we are indeed living in ultra sensitive times, I also believe that our view of others as anything less than a child of the living God is wrong.  See, I have that confidence.  In my heart I know that I was lovingly created by my heavenly Father {Genesis 2:7}.  Now, while this gives me assurance as to my true identity, it is also a reminder to me of how I am to see those around me {2 Corinthians 5:16}.  Like it or not, we all have those filters by which we view the world around us.  As we've seen far too often, there are definitely those among us who see people of different races and religion as somehow inferior or not as blessed as ourselves.  Tell me where that's written in scripture.  What is written is that in the eyes of the Lord, race is but a product of His own creation.  In fact, it is not our race which defines us at all, but who we are in Christ Jesus {Galatians 3:28}.  It is here where we get lost in our beliefs of who it is we truly are inside.  God does not love me any more because I am a white man, nor does he bestow hatred upon others because they are different from ourselves.  One of the most beautiful things of the late Dr. Martin Luther King was that he always tried to get people to see themselves as God saw them.  Not as black or white, but as brethren in Christ.  Whatever thoughts you might have on our nations racial struggles, you cannot deny the fact that it is God who has created each and every one of us in His image {Genesis 1:27}.  I believe that you cannot know the truth about Christ Jesus and believe that race is a issue in His eyes.  The truth about Jesus centers around the belief that it is Jesus who lives through us.  The apostle Paul speaks to this in Galatians when he claimed this it is Jesus who resides in him {Galatians 2:20}.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3: 28 NKJV

I have had the opportunity over the past few years to work with a man who carries with him the mistrust of many racial injustices.  I get it.  I believe that it is difficult for him to see the positive side of the Father while he sees all that is going on around him.  This is his filter.  In his world, he lives in a country where white people have been against him for as long as he can remember.  Of course, this becomes a ready made excuse anytime something goes wrong in his life.  Is this how Jesus responded to those who sneered at Him?  In His lifetime, Jesus dealt with plenty of the hatred of the rulers of His day.  In the end, it is these people who put Him to death.  Jesus did not carry this with Him because it's not who He was.  Jesus knew very well His own identity in the Father.  Were there times where the hurtful words and accusations got to Him?  I'm sure of it, yet Jesus never allowed the way they treated Him to change His filter.  Even at the cross, He asked for mercy for those who mocked Him {Luke 23:34}.  One of the challenges we face as followers of Jesus is in how we see others in the midst of all that happens around us.  Our own filters must never be clouded with the worries, cares and injustices of the world.  There will be those around us who speak of hate, but that does not define us.  If I was created in the image of God, then I must believe that He did not stop there.  I don't own the image of God, I share in it with the rest of His creation.  Likewise, I don't own the reality of Christ Jesus in me, I share it with all who know the truth of Jesus.

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother who he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
1 John 4: 20 NKJV


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

White Jesus

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers,  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Colossians 1: 15 - 17 NKJV

I read this week that a civil rights activist by the name of Shaun King has been calling for the destruction of statues of Jesus.  King takes this stand because he views the traditional images of Christ which we find in many Christian publications as standing for white European supremacy.  I get it.  I've heard many arguments over the years of which race it was that Jesus belonged.  Well, Jesus is the firstborn of the human race.  Without getting too much into the details, Jesus is recognized as the second Adam, who came along to fix what the damage that first Adam had done in the garden of Eden.  What Shaun King fails to realize is that Jesus, being one of the most broken men in our entire history, would more than likely agree with his stance if he were to have the ability to ask Him.  For Jesus was never white, European OR entitled.  He is the Son of the living God.  Along the way, He was also the son of a poor common family.  Despite His holy nature, Jesus grew up knowing and experiencing most of the pain and hardships which you and I face in our own lives {Hebrews 4:15}.  Jesus can sympathize with our shortcomings because He's been there Himself.  You want to talk about privilege?  Jesus was persecuted and put to death by the elitists of his day.  The Jewish authorities were hell bent on condemning Jesus because they didn't like what He was saying.  For one thing, Jesus condemned the Jewish authorities for their practices against their own people {Matthew 23:13}.  When you really look at the life of Jesus, He was as far from a elitist as one could get.  Perhaps Mr. King should ask the multitudes of people who have held Jesus up as that example of what is true and just.  Before I get away from the point Shaun King was attempting to make, let's address it shall we?  So, who is it that profits from the image of the white, European Jesus?  The same people who have been pushing this image of Jesus for centuries.  Hundreds of years ago, the followers of Jesus needed a image by which to know Him by.  Sort of like a family photo.  The church was more than willing to provide  their flocks with a image of Jesus to adore.  After the reign of Constantine (272-237), these images of Jesus became more prevalent.

"Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Devine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's understanding."
Acts 17: 29 NKJV

One reason that I didn't take Shaun Kings comments all that seriously is because I know better.  I know that Jesus is more than just a image of stone or art.  If all of the statues of Jesus were torn down today, would that change who Jesus is?  Not at all!  I see the various paintings and statues of Christ as somewhat akin to idol worship.  Our friends of the catholic faith way be well aware of idols in the church.  Gods definition of idols is clear.

"You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourselves a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."
Exodus 20: 3 - 4 NKJV

Like the symbolism of the cross, the image of Jesus has almost become more important than the man Himself.  But what about this entire white Jesus thing?  Well, the truth of Jesus is that He is the image of the invisible God {Colossians 1:15}.  When we see Jesus, we see the Father as well {John 14:7}.  This is important to how those who actually knew Jesus saw Him.  Where was it that Jesus spent most of His time on earth?  That's right, in what we would today call the middle east.  How many white Europeans would you see walking around Jerusalem back in Jesus's day?  I'm guessing not many at all.  My point is that Jesus would appear to those around Him as one of them.  He was, for all intents, the son of a Jewish carpenter.  His physical appearance would associate Him with other young men of His time.  This was no white European Jesus.  However, if we want to really get down to brass tacks, the Jesus of today is white, black, Asian, European etc.  We do not define Jesus.  Jesus defines all who we are {Galatians 2:20}.