WHO IS THIS JESUS?

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So who is this Jesus?

Is He like the angry Christian crying fowl over being discriminated against? Is He like the one posting on Facebook about all the hateful things people do to Christians and calling those people hypocrites?

I don’t think so.

The real Jesus said this sort of thing would happen. He didn’t react to his detractors, He responded with humility. He reached out with his hand, not raise his fist. In fact, the only time we see Him angry is when people were blocked from the temple because vendors filled the courtyard selling items to use for Passover Celebration.

Is He like the Christian standing on the street with the turn or burn sign warning all homosexuals they are heading straight for hell? Is He like the Christian who decides that homosexuality is the greatest sin of all while turning a blind eye to his or her own gluttony, anger, jealousy, and slander? Is He like the Christian who says, “I love the sinner, but not his sin,” but all the while this same Christian loves his own sin? Is He like the Christian who rants on social media about homosexuals but forgets that these homosexuals are people—people with lives, hopes, and dreams. People who work hard and most important, people God loves? Is He like the parents who are fearful for, ashamed, embarrassed, or disappointed by their children who are gay?

I don’t think so.

Jesus left that kind of condemnation to the Pharisees. He chose to love. Why? Because love casts out fear and love never fails.

Does Jesus belong to a political party? Is He a liberal or a conservative? Democrat or Republican? Did He raise his voice in anger and argue with those who did not agree with Him or challenged Him?

I don’t think so.

He stood, silent, before his accusers—those who were violently opposed to Him, and listened to them lie about Him, ridicule Him, and then treat Him unfairly. He voluntarily lay on the cross. And from that cross He asked for God to forgive those very people.

Is He the white man who feels superior over all other races? Is He the black man who feels all his troubles are because of the white man? Is He entitled? Is He a bully? Does He feel the need to use drama to draw attention to Himself?

I don’t think so.

Jesus’ eyes were never on Himself. He gave grace to the weaknesses of mankind. He stood on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and wept because the people were like a sheep without a shepherd. In other words, they didn’t have a clue. Neither do we.

Is He a taskmaster? Does He require us to do good deeds? Hand out tracts? Beat on doors with the Gospel? Carry our Bibles as a weapon? Set the pagans straight? Serve in every capacity in the church? Cover our heads? Wear dresses? Avoid caffeine? Attend church every time the doors are open?

I don’t think so.

He had only two commandments, to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. (note: He didn’t say to make sure others did that too). Then the second was to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything He came to do is based out of these two things—alone.

I’m writing this today because tomorrow there will be churches filled with frilly frocks, bloody Jesuses carrying crosses down the aisles, and choirs singing joyful hymns. There will be children hunting eggs and gorging themselves on chocolate Easter bunnies. And most of us will not take the time to stop and ask ourselves, “Who is Jesus?”

Why? Because we all think we know. But if we are guilty of any of the few things (there are many more) I’ve written about today, then we need to take a fresh look at Jesus Christ.

His message was simple—love God, love others. He warned us to not look at other people’s sins but to look at our own sin and repent. He wants us to take care of the poor, not judge them or grumble because they are taking away from us.

Read the red. Know Jesus.

Finally, as a follower of Christ, I want to apologize to all who have been confronted with the Jesus some Christians have created in their own image. The Jesus who is angry, who is political, who hates homosexuals, who blames every problem on others, who points his or her finger in judgment, and who is the taskmaster expecting us to whip ourselves and crawl on our knees across a gravel parking lot to please and placate God.

That isn’t the real Jesus. He isn’t pushing his finger in your chest because you are divorced, have an addiction, or visit bars.

I’m sorry for how we have used manuscripts and letters that were written in the ancient Middle East and forced them on a Modern Western world in a literal fashion while ignoring the truth they conveyed.

So, who is Jesus—really?

He is the one who values you, who treasures you, who respects you as God’s creation, who cherishes you, who accepts you, who honors and respects you. He is the one who is devoted to you. In other words, He loves you.

He is the one who stoops and writes upon the sand, then says, “I don’t condemn you, now go and sin no more.” And when He says that to you, you will understand what He means. You won’t need others telling you.

This Resurrection Sunday (what most call Easter) I hope you forgive the Christians who introduced you to the Christ patterned after themselves. I pray you will lift your face and open your heart to the true Christ and say, “Hello Jesus, I’m glad to finally meet you. Let’s have coffee and get acquainted.”

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EASTER IS ABOUT LOVE

Love. What is it? This is a question that has been asked throughout time. Most of us define love through our emotions. If someone looks good, treats us good, makes us feel good, arouses our senses, then it certainly “feels” like love.

But what happens when that person no longer looks good? When the stresses of life makes that person not so inclined to treat us good or makes us feel good? What about when the same old thing dulls the senses? It doesn’t “feel” like love anymore.

Love it isn’t an emotion. Emotion may be a byproduct of love, but it isn’t love.

Love is an action that benefits others. Even when it is inconvenient, painful, and unappreciated. That is how Jesus Christ loves us. Entering our human experience wasn’t convenient. It was painful. And even today, His love isn’t always appreciated.

We have heard, God is love. What does that mean?

Think of the sun. It gives us heat and light. It can’t help it. It is the sun and that is what the sun does. I can go outside and shake my fist at it and tell it I don’t want anything to do with it. But I stand outside and shake my fist too long, I will still get a sunburn. The only way I can avoid the sun is to remove myself from it. But the sun is still there, shining.

God is love. He loves us no matter what. He can’t help it. He is love. We can shake our fists at Him and tell Him we want nothing to do with him and that doesn’t change a thing. He loves us. God cannot love us more when we do good. He cannot love us less when we mess up. He is love. We can turn away from God. But He is still there, loving.

Malcolm Smith puts it this way. We can hold a glass of water and say “I have water.” But it is a different thing entirely to say, “I am water.”

God is love. Through Christ, God ratified His love. And because of this we have love. We are loved. No matter what.