You know what the biggest problem with Jesus is? He’s always saying such batshit crazy things. Like babbling on and on and on about the Kingdom of God and how it should command our sole allegiance. And those kingdom teachings are riddled with outlandish ‘zingers’ like these:
- ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’ (Mt. 5:5).
- ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt. 5:9).
- ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also’ (Lk. 6:27-29).
- ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God’ (Lk. 6:20).
- ‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort’ (Lk. 6:24).
- ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’ (Mk. 8:35).
That kind of seditious talk will get you labelled ‘un-American’.
Maybe that’s why many of us and our churches cleverly explain away or quietly brush aside so much of what he said. ‘Gospels Jesus’ takes us so far outside our comfort zone, he’s best kicked to the kerb. Tell your story walking, Gospels Jesus.
But what then? I mean, you can’t have a church without a Jesus.
A Jesus In Our Image
To compensate for the loss of one Jesus, we simply need to invent a whole new Jesus. One who’s more ‘our kind of people’. One who’s a patriot. One who believes in free market economics. One who admires our fiscal responsibility and our tireless pursuit of financial security. One who’s comfortable with our suspicion of non-whites, foreigners and our low-rent neighbours. One who has a concealed carry permit for the 9MM under his robes and practises at the firing range to stay sharp. One who shares our cavalier attitude toward life. One who agrees that we should stand strong for our rights. One whose primary agenda is to ensure that we ‘go to heaven’ when we die.
‘Blessed are the flag wavers and defenders of freedom. Blessed are those who understand their constitutional rights. Blessed are the well-armed citizens. Blessed are those born into privilege. Blessed are the self-sufficient. Blessed are the gainfully employed and upwardly mobile. It is to such as these that the Kingdom belongs.’
Now there’s a Jesus who speaks our language!
Of course, if this Jesus replaces Gospels Jesus, we get a whole different gospel. And it might be good news for affluent westerners, but is it really good news for anyone else?
Standing at the Door
But what if we in the west were to invite Gospels Jesus in from begging on the street? What if we allowed him to speak to us again? What if we really listened, despite how uncomfortable his words make us?
I’m certain it would radically alter our perspective. Our worldview would be reshaped. Our ideas about our countries, our communities, our security and our rights would undergo a paradigm shift. We would become much more the ‘Kingdom people’ envisioned by the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts and John.
If we’re willing to seriously entertain these possibilities, then Jesus’ words from Revelation should fill us with hope:
‘Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.’
Honestly, couldn’t we use a little more ‘crazy’?
- The painting of ‘Yeshua’ was painted/posted by a blogger calling himself ‘Horseman’, found at http://onthemount.blogspot.com.au/. I think he really captures the Jesus of the 1st-century Middle East, as much as it’s possible to do.
- The ‘toon’ of Jesus’ face, entitled ‘Son of Man’ is from Vector Tunes and is a public domain image.