On a park bench in Davidson, North Carolina, a statue depicts Jesus as a sleeping, homeless man. Though His face and hands are covered in a blanket, passersby know it's Jesus because of the crucifixion wounds on his feet. It's a work of art that has some residents reacting both positively and negatively.
"One woman from the neighborhood actually called police the first time she drove by," said David Boraks, editor of DavidsonNews.net. "She thought it was an actual homeless person."
"Another neighbor, who lives a couple of doors down from the church, wrote us a letter to the editor saying it creeps him out," Boraks added.
Some neighbors of faith have also said they don't appreciate Jesus being depicted as a hobo. They believe the statue demeans the Son of God's image.
The $22,000 bronze statue, which was installed outside of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, was purchased in memory of parishioner, Kate McIntire, a lover of public art, NPR reports.
Though some people have voiced their objections, Rev. David Buck, the rector of the church, said he appreciates the discussion it has prompted.
"It gives authenticity to our church," he said. "This is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society."
The church claims that the purpose of the statue is to serve as a visual translation of the Bible's book of Matthew, in which Jesus says to his disciples, "As you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me."
Reverend Buck believes 'Homeless Jesus' provides a good lesson for those accustomed to the idea of Christ as a man enthroned in glory. While the reverend acknowledges that the Son of God is to be glorified, the art is a reminder that Christ's life was not much different from the man on the park bench.
"We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus had," Buck said. "He was, in essence, a homeless person."