“I want Jesus to be in my monkeysphere.”
Okay, weird conversation piece, maybe. First, what’s a monkeysphere (if you don’t know), and second, did I go off the sacrilegious deep end or what?
1. The “monkeysphere” is a term for the number of interpersonal relationships a brain can generally maintain and care about. The term comes from monkey research where the scientists discovered that the monkeys’ brains would only allow them to form societies up to a certain number of other monkeys. A bigger brain permitted a larger society. They then tried using a human brain and ended up boosting the monkey’s “sphere” of relationships from 50 to 150.
Basically, the monkeysphere is the collection of people you actually care about and think about as real people… not just friends on Facebook, or nameless humans that intersect your daily life. A good example is the trash man, whose job dramatically affects your quality of life, but whose name you probably do not know or care to discover.
The wiki article about it seems to make it pretty clear.
Clear on that one? Good.
2. No, I’m not losing my faith or mocking Christ. My wife and I were talking about how we relate to God, and she made the comment that she really wants to remember the personhood and humanity of Christ. A Man, someone she cares deeply for, willingly suffered beating and shame. He chose to endure anguish and agony, and He accepted His own execution.
Jesus is the soldier who jumps on the grenade to save the other soldiers in the trench (except multiplied by 20 billion or so).
If a person does that for you in real life, it’s kind of hard to forget it.
The fact that I can say it that way, and you probably understood and agreed – that says something about how we view Him.
I find I happily recognize and recount the transaction, the theology, the spiritual “chemical” reaction that took place at the Cross. My sins were washed away by His blood, my inky stain of death was turned scarlet, and my scarlet sins were washed clean. I can quote the scriptures to say what took place: He died for all, that those who live should live for themselves no longer, but for Him who died and rose again… if through one man, death reigned in all men, how much more shall life reign through the one Man Christ Jesus… for there is no other mediator between God and men… and so on.
It’s a historical fact. On such-and-such day, the battle of Gettysburg was won by the Union. Abraham Lincoln wrote a powerful speech about it. And on such-and-such day way back in 33 AD or 29 AD or whatever, the battle over sin and death and hell was won by the Messiah. And Paul the Apostle wrote some really powerful speeches about it. I like to quote them, just like I enjoy hearing “Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation…”
Hopefully my point is becoming clear.
I find it easy to recognize Jesus’ unique place in history and theology.
I find it all too easy to stop there.
I don’t want a historical figure. I don’t want a relationship with a spiritual principle, nor an affection for a moving quote.
I want a personal relationship, a constant interaction, a recognition that there was a Man… and not just any Man, but my best Friend… and when the enemy opened fire, He jumped in front of me, arms wide, to protect me from every deadly shot.
You don’t forget that sort of love. And neither do you recall it with cold distance. It changes your life.
Oh, and don’t forget, dear self… all those other monkeys outside my sphere? He did the same for them.
Maybe I should care. Because He does.