The church has a big problem.
We like to put Jesus into little boxes that fit our comfort zones.
For uber-liberals: Jesus is a socialist hippie who said all war was bad and wants us to be free to explore our sexuality.
For uber-conservatives: Jesus is a sword-carrying manly man who approves of war, and destroys all sinners, mainly of the sexually deviant variety.
For denominations: Jesus was a devout (insert name of denomination here).
For legalistic types: Jesus was perfect, and commanded us to be perfect.
For lenient types: Jesus doesn’t care if we slip up. He loves everyone.
For skeptics: Jesus was a good man, but I don’t know about all that miracle business.
…And I could go on, but you get the idea. Jesus has been, and will always will be, controversial. At least in this day and age, everyone wants Jesus on their side, but most of them don’t even know the real Jesus.
Now here’s what I think: If Jesus came today, he would have something to say to EVERYBODY.
To the uber-liberals, he would probably say something like, “I made your bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit for an express purpose, and that is not to destroy them with illicit sex and drugs. Also, I am not a hippie.”
To the uber-conservatives, maybe he would say, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. And right now, you are not in the category of “merciful.” Also, quit it with the gun thing.”
To the denominations, he might say, “That church down the street has my Spirit also. I want you to be one with them, as I and the Father are one.”
Maybe he would give this advice to the legalists: “I am not about checking boxes. I want your heart, soul, mind and strength.” And to the lenient people, “Sin has great consequences, and continuing to sin cheapens my sacrifice.” And finally, to the skeptics: “I am God, and I will blow your mind.”
Actually, maybe that last one is for everybody.
Jesus is God! (And if you disagree with that, then you are going to have problems with this blog…) Can any human expect that we can fully grasp all there is to know about God? We know what God has revealed to us through the Scriptures by his Spirit. But our human desires and ambitions still get in the way of even that. And we end up not knowing the real Jesus.
The Jesus I know knows the reality of human nature. But even so, reality is too small for him, and he does crazy things, like calming storms, that show that he is the one and only truth.
The Jesus I know is probably a manly man. He was tempted in every way, so he understands desires. But he overcame the temptation, and that shows his unbelievable power.
The Jesus I know has a culture that is home to him. But he invites all, from the east and the west, to come sit at his table: the table of the one who brings unity.
The Jesus I know is perfect. He walked in accordance with God all the time. He has a perfect relationship with the Father and the Spirit. He mediates for us as the one true way.
The Jesus I know suffered. His father died when he was 12. He was poor all his life. He was an outcast – thought of as an illegitimate child. (Who would believe the virgin birth?) His pain enables him to be our healer.
The Jesus I know was courageous, and stood up to people. But also, he let himself be spat upon, and whipped, and humiliated, and killed, all out of love.
The Jesus I know never gave up, even when he died. He rose from the dead, giving us hope, and promising life.
In other words, the Jesus I know is my God, and that means he can never, ever be put in a box.
He destroys my boxes all the time. When I am hesitant to love my enemies, he shows me that just as he did, I need to be willing to forgive and forget – and suffer pain – seventy times seven times. When I am being stubborn, he shows me that as his disciple, I need to submit to authority on earth and in heaven. When I am despairing, he shows me that he is the resurrection and the life.
Knowing the real Jesus is the greatest adventure, the greatest trial, and the greatest joy. I die to myself so often, but each time, I find something better.
Will you join me?