There is an idea making its rounds among many people about Jesus. They make Him out to be a sixties hippie peace and love type who would never hurt any one’s feelings. In my observation of their Jesus concept, He is the ultimate safe space for everything from alternate music to alternate lifestyles. Jesus is cool with it all! Above all He is non-judgmental.
In contrast with this gentle Jesus are the Christians who are looked on by over 60 per cent of Democrats as being as violent as Islam, according to a February 6, 2017 CBS poll. What is going on here, with a very congenial Jesus leading a group of radical, violent people who tie His name to their own?
I would suggest that there has been a popular culture generated view of both Jesus and His followers that has little to nothing to do with reality. First, let’s consider the false view that Christ was some sort of a flabby Jesus.
Jesus was a carpenter. When he gathered His disciples, He found real men; fishermen, men of the country, strong men. Jesus was acquainted with calluses and His followers were acquainted with hard work. Jesus was not a limp wristed softy who tiptoed His way through the meadows with a line of followers held to Him by a daisy chain.
Jesus stared down the leading people of the day. Jesus was a Jew. But he did not let racial preference stop him from telling the truth. Of one of His disciples He said, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Those are not the words of a compromising and weak leader. Or consider His statement to those who refused to believe who He was “Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” Think how safe the old time journalists felt when Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Or consider how someone who wants to listen to only things that are all peace and love would feel if they heard Jesus call them “serpents” or a “generation of vipers.”
Jesus cared for the poor and downtrodden, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and saved sinners. But He was not easy on hypocrites or the unrepentant. Those who would not follow Him did not get some kind of celestial pass to heaven just because they were on their own personal quest for meaning or identity. Jesus was all about truth and there is no compromise in Him in that regard. There is no flabby Jesus.
This may be why His followers have the reputation of being as violent as followers of Islam. You don’t have to literally throw homosexuals off of buildings to be considered hateful. All you need to do is to call it a sin to practice same sex activity. That so riles the spirits of the modern conscience that it produces a reaction of moral equivalence. If you don’t embrace the whole new ethos of acceptance for all things sexual, you are a violent hate monger equated with jihadists who literally behead “infidels.”
During the turmoil of the 1960’s on American campuses, there was an evening protest on the campus at Penn State. A few of us decided to go and engage some of them. It was prayer meeting night, so after the service we went not bothering to change from our sports jackets. Needless to say we stood out like sore thumbs among the crowd. As I walked among them I detected that someone was following me. So I turned and asked what he wanted. “Why are you here?” He wanted to know. I told him that I thought they were going about things the wrong way and that real change needed to happen in the hearts of people. “You’re a NARC, aren’t you?” he accused. “No, I’m not a NARC,” I answered. “Well, you’re not a Jesus freak,” he observed. “Why don’t you think I’m a Jesus freak?” I asked. “Because you’re too tough,” he concluded.
Here I was, all 175 pounds of me, never bulking up in a gym, and somehow I’m tough! I told him I was a Christian who followed Jesus and believed people needed to repent of their sins and get right with God. He said, “Why don’t you go to Washington, D.C. and tell them?” I answered that if I was there that’s what I’d do, but I was at Penn State and that was my message to him and the rest of them at that demonstration.
I came away from that encounter realizing that even then many viewed Jesus as rather flabby and were not acquainted with the idea that His followers could have strong beliefs they were willing to maintain.
This week the Supreme Court in the state of Washington ruled against a Christian florist for her religious conviction to refuse to participate in something that would violate her conscience. She is a sweet elderly lady whose crime is being too tough. She has thrown somebody’s sense of a safe space off the top of a building.
In C.S Lewis’ Narnia is this exchange between Susan and Mr. Beaver. “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Jesus is not safe, if by safe we mean we can expect Him to accept our view of truth without His revelation. In fact, it is quite the opposite. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” But Jesus is good, and being good He came down to earth to do something strong on behalf of sinful man. Christ died for our sins and was buried. But, to borrow from Lewis, He’s the King, I tell you, and the grave could not hold him. On the third day He arose, with victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave! We can go our own way and find Him to be extremely dangerous. Or we can come humbly to Him and bow to His grace for forgiveness and Lordship in our lives and find that we are indeed safe in the arms of Jesus.