What would Jesus do? If only we would be more like Jesus, the world would be a better place. Jesus would never be a democrat. Jesus would never be a republican. ALL you have to do is believe in Jesus and then be the best person you can be. Over the course of almost 14 years in ministry, I have heard all of these phrases at some point come out of the mouth of Christians and non-Christians alike; and the conclusion I’ve come to is this…Do we know who Jesus really is anymore? These popular sayings range from really cool Christian catch phrases to a completely false teaching of who Jesus is. So, when I hear things like “be like Jesus,” I often follow up with the question of “who is Jesus?” I think it’s worth noting that I DO NOT ask “who is Jesus to you.” That would imply that the character of Christ is pliable to fit our specific wants and desires. I want to know if the person knows who the Jesus of scripture is- the ONLY Jesus there is. These other notions about Christ are nothing short of a man-made, self idealistic dream of a genie in a bottle here to grant our every wish and desire; loosely backed by pieced together scripture taken out of context to fit our preconceived social or political notions. The truth is, there is only ONE Jesus, ONE Christ, ONE savior of mankind; and He is the Jesus found in the pages of God’s perfect and infallible word, not taken out of context, but alive with all the truth, mercy, and grace that point to Him on every single page- whether it steps on our toes or not. So, will the real savior of mankind please stand up?
I think it’s helpful to expose a couple of these popular false Jesuses in order to better understand the real Jesus that reigns at the right hand of the Father. First, there’s the Jesus of only truth or as I like to call him Rambo Jesus. Now, hear me- Jesus is truth, but Rambo Jesus is the representation that Jesus is ONLY truth, often filtered through legalistic scripture that never takes into account the situation for which it was written and tends to gloss over the mountains of scripture that depict God’s grace through His son. This Jesus is wielded like a weapon in order to put people in their place or have an epic “mic drop” moment as some non-Christian is “schooled” with theological might. The person wielding Rambo Jesus often does not understand or has lost sight of what the real Jesus did for them on a cross, after all, we aren’t born into our faith. At some point, we had to acknowledge our own sinfulness and repent of that sin. I have often felt that one of the most crippling aspects a Christian life can have is the lack of true understanding & acknowledgement of our sinful nature. Yes, the truth is important. God has set standards and expectations of us which Jesus taught. Jesus demonstrated righteous anger in the temple when He drove out the money changers, but the real Jesus is not one dimensional. The Jesus of scripture is much bigger than that. Rambo Jesus is not Jesus at all.
Then you have the Jesus of only grace, or as I call him Hippy Jesus (you know- peace, love, and whole wheat kind of thing). So many truths today. It really is mind blowing. We are living in a world where truth is now whatever you want it to be according to many. If you don’t like what’s going on in your life, change it. Declare your situation to not be true. In fact declare whatever, whoever, and however you want life to be and THAT can be truth. There are so many dangers in this line of thought. Personal “truth”, just because it is declared by a person, is in no way reality; but there are plenty of people attempting to push legislation to make it legal (notice I didn’t say true). In fact, the very definition of truth is: “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.” We have seen this spill over into the realm of spiritual life as well. Hippy Jesus is an active attempt to shape the image and character of Christ to look like whatever the currently accepted “truth” is. This often comes with justifying our sins through scripture, particularly the words of Jesus, as they are pieced together, completely out of context, in order to make it seem like Jesus condones or is in some way ok with our sinful actions (i.e “I haven’t killed anybody”). When confronted, you hear things like “Jesus loves everyone,” “Jesus doesn’t care what we believe as long as we believe,” (see, I told you John 3:16 can be dangerous if not taught correctly) or my personal favorite (thick sarcasm inserted here) “Jesus just wants me to be happy” (Thanks to the toxic & heretical prosperity gospel message). Hippy Jesus is the one that Mahatma Gandhi mistakenly took to be the real Jesus when he quipped that “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians…” Yes, Jesus was a force for social justice. Yes, Jesus loved the world. Yes, Jesus healed the sick. And yes, Christians should be doing all of this. But that is not ALL Christians should be doing. Yes, Jesus dined with sinners, forgave the adulterous woman, and healed the lame man; but Jesus ALSO did not want them to stay where they are. He told sinners to go and sin no more, called out the woman at the well for her lifestyle, and told the masses wanting another free, miracle meal that HE was the bread of life. And when they realized Jesus wasn’t just handing things out, they left Him. God wants to save His people and He did that through Jesus and that requires difficult and often times uncomfortable realizations about ourselves and how we live. The Jesus of scripture is much bigger than that. Hippy Jesus is not Jesus at all.
The truth is the Jesus of scripture, the REAL Jesus, is both truth and grace. John 1:14 says it best:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
Jesus is not a political figure, nor a mascot for a social justice movement. He is much, much bigger than that. He is the savior of ALL mankind, not just the ones we deem worthy, but those who He has established a relationship. The message of the gospel is going to step on our toes, it is going to give us a gut punch at times, and it is going to call out the way we live. The message of the gospel is also going to love you when you feel unlovable, give you worth when you feel worthless, and lift you up when everyone else has let you down. The true Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, visit & care for the sick and the criminal; and He calls us to do so whether we find them worthy or not because HE finds them worthy. This is not possible following Rambo Jesus, only by following the REAL Jesus can this happen. The true Jesus ALSO calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross every day, and follow Him. He tells us that HE is way, the truth, and the life and only through HIM can we get to the Father and that is going to cost us our selfish desires. This is not possible following Hippy Jesus, only by following the REAL Jesus can this happen.
It is my honest hope and prayer that we can come together and begin displaying the truth, grace, and character of the Jesus found in God’s Word- not a Jesus used as a weapon, but as a means to show the world the grace of love and peace as well as offering the truth of the hope and eternal salvation that comes from turning away from our sins and giving our lives to Him. “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.” At the same time, we can take all the mission trips we want and feed all the hungry people in the world; but unless we share the the gospel of Jesus Christ, these are all just temporary fixes to a very eternal problem. I have grown weary of world focused on self. So, will the real Jesus please stand up?
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach
Such a great reminder! I pray so often that Jesus would help me take him out of any box I’ve put him in. Thanks for sharing!