Jesus just ain’t mean enough

By John D. Pierce

For some professing Christians Jesus just ain’t mean enough. They claim him as their savior but consider him a wimp when it comes to “real life” experiences.

They impose a strictly literally interpretation on the Bible, in principle, but literally treat the most demanding teachings of Jesus as if he were an idealistic dreamer or just kidding.

They want a cosmic strongman. A kind of hero — to quote Bonnie Tyler — who’s “gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.”

Not some sacrificial lamb that turns the other cheek and values the weak and meek.

Some believers today seem to share the same disillusionment if not disappointment as those who first couldn’t grasp that God’s incarnation would be so lowly and vulnerable rather than a powerful warrior raring to smite the least offender.

Hotshot Dallas preacher Robert Jeffress, for example, dismissed the notion that Jesus’ preeminent teachings cobbled together as the Sermon on the Mount were applicable to governing. He would run, he said, from a political leader who wasn’t the “meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find.”

Apparently he prefers a lord who doesn’t get captured and killed.

Admittedly, Jesus often wimped out — and it started early in his life. The guy was born into the lower economic strata and never pulled himself up by his sandal straps.

Surely many in Nazareth would have benefited more from Amway products than some mumble jumble about bringing good news to the poor, releasing captives, recovering sight to the blind and letting the oppressed go free.

Then when Jesus got a great offer from Satan to turn boulders into brioche and acquire large parcels of real estate, he didn’t have the art of the deal.

There’s a reason some seek to define the character of Jesus more by the single fit he pitched at temple profiteers than his wide extension of grace and his willingness to endure suffering to the point of death.

Conversely, there are those whose idea of God is much like a best buddy — one who’s always there to lend a hand for their own convenience. God is conceived as more cozy than holy.

Whatever one’s understanding, it is much easier to shape the image of the divine according to our own comfort than to allow the divine to shape us in uncomfortable ways — especially when gaining requires losing rather than the other way around.

God is beyond our full comprehension. Mystery does and will remain. But Jesus — in his words and deeds — provides for us the best angle if we’re willing to take a hard look.

That is, if we want something other than to create the kind of god we prefer.

 

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