Nothing like Mr. Potato Man

by | Oct 30, 2022 | 2022, Musings | 0 comments

About the time of the Korean War, George Lerner designed a new toy for American kids. This new toy was very inexpensive and utilized a real potato for the body. It came with several small plastic pieces that would enhance the “potato doll.” There was a mouth, a nose, some eyes, a hat, some shoes and some pants.

But soon those toys started to smell. Moms didn’t like their house reeking of rotting potatoes. So the game came out with a plastic body and Hasbro began to widely distribute it. For many years, Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head has been a favorite toy of modern kids.

I think the attraction is the simple idea that you can build a person any way you like. Maybe your preference is to have the eyes below the nose, so be it. Or maybe you like your toy friend to only have one ear, that’s cool.

But building a real life, a life rooted in Jesus Christ can’t be done with cute pieces of plastic. We need a blue print. We need some building codes and directions. We need a building inspector to make sure we are doing it right.

We need the Word of God. And today I am specifically turning our attention to the book of James. Now, James may have been the half-brother of Jesus, but he sure doesn’t talk about Him much. In his letter, there are just two references to Christ and only 14 references to faith. But in this short book (only 108 verses), there are some 59 commands.

James knew that men (and women) do a lousy job of building lives worthy of the calling we have in Jesus. Left to our own devices, we might turn out looking like Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head.

To say that our figures would be  misshapen is to put it mildly. So James lays down some very clear directions.

He teaches us how to face trials (1:3-15). He urges us to listen to God’s Word (1:19-25). He forbids favoritism (2:9). He explains the symbiotic role faith and works have in 2:14-26. Chapter three is all about taming the tongue and gaining wisdom. He urges us to submit to the Lord in chapter four without boasting about tomorrow. And He ends his epistle urging us to be patient in suffering (5:7-12).

Each of these instructions, if followed, will help us to become exactly the person God intend us to be. We are God’s “poem.” In Ephesians 2, Paul states in verse 10 that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

That word, “workmanship” means “poem.” We are quite literally God’s poetic expression. We are a beautiful rendition of His love. He is putting all the “parts” together under a magnificent plan. He is making us to reflect His glory and to do so in a remarkable fashion.

And when He is done, none of us will look anything like Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head!