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.”

BE STILL AND “KNOW”

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When I was a little girl I had a parakeet named Butch. He was green with a yellow head. I loved that bird. In fact, I love birds of all kinds. Every day I would stick my hand in his cage and hold out my finger. He’d step on it and ride out. I’d move him to my shoulder and he’d hop on and stay there most of the day. When I washed my hands he’d sidestep down my arm and play in the water. When I ate lunch he’d help himself to whatever I was eating. Then, at the end of the day, I took him back to his cage. He stepped on my finger, rode it inside and hopped on his perch. For the rest of the night, he chatted with and kissed the reflection in his mirror.

Fast forward through the years. One morning I heard a horrible commotion behind the glass of my fireplace. It looked like an ash tornado in there. I opened the doors to see a little bird. It must have fallen down the flue. I spoke in my quietest voice and reached inside. That bird went ballistic. It nearly knocked its little brains out flying from side-to-side, up and down trying to escape. I kept saying, “Be still!” Finally, I caught it, took it to the door, and set it free.

Now what is the difference between these birds? Butch knew me. We had a relationship. The little wild bird only knew one thing—his life was out of control, he perceived he was in danger, and he was going to do something about it.

For the past three weeks I’ve been meditating on the a phrase found in the Psalms, “Be still, know I am God. This admonition is given by the God of Jesus Christ. When He said to be still, He is asking us to let go. To surrender. That isn’t always easy is it? Sometimes it is hard to let go of that worry, to let go of all the things that make our souls twist up in knots, and to quiet our minds in this loud world.

God understands this. That is why the emphasis is put on the second word, know. Knowing the heart, the character, the nature of God gives us a calm confidence. A relationship with God is the same as a relationship with a new friend. It takes time  together to know someone. Relationships grow over time. Light is shed on misconceptions, trust is built, understanding deepens.

The unexpected bonus is that as we grow to know God, we begin to know ourselves. We realize we are worthy of love. And then we recognize that value in others. Even those we disagree with. Neat huh?

May your 2013 be blessed beyond what you can think or even imagine. May it be one of a still and confident mind that comes from truly knowing God.