Sunday, March 7, 2010

they like jesus but not christians: i doubt it

recently there has been a lot of talk about people liking jesus but not His followers.

to which i respond: i doubt it.

i definitely don’t doubt that people hate christians (we shouldn't make it our goal to be disliked, but it is biblical and to be expected: john 15:18, 2 timothy 3:12).  and i don’t doubt that people truly think that they like jesus… but i do doubt that the jesus they like is the real jesus… the same jesus that called sinners to repentance, called for radical self-sacrificing, claimed to be the only way to God and showed us that our sin is so bad that it could only be paid for by the torturous death of a perfect lamb.

and the jesus who says “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (john 3:3).

i would say that this is possibly the most or one of the most offensive sayings of jesus. basically he is saying:  “your sin is so awful, so deeply rooted and disgusting that you need to be born all over again”.   

and that idea leads to this thought: did we have any control over our birth from our mom? no.  we did not conceive ourselves or do anything so that we could be born.  we were brought into this world by the loving kindness of our parents.  then what can we do to be born again?  we must depend on the loving kindness of God our Father to make this happen. 

to further drive home his point, jesus follows it with this: “you must be born again.  the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

this leads to another rhetorical question: do we control the wind?  can we see it?  can we know where it is going to blow and when it is going to change direction or stop?  no. 

it is humbling to know that though we try to micromanage our lives, we can’t even control or predict the weather (even the weathermen can’t!). 

however, its immensely humbling to know that we are at the mercy of God for our eternal destiny.

so are people offended by jesus?  most would say no.  its en vogue to like the pop-culture, hippie, dress-wearing, limp-wristed jesus.  but i think that if people were actually familiar with His teachings most would be offended.  but by God's mercy, some would be born again.

in second place for most offensive sayings of jesus I would put as luke 4:23-27.  what would you add to the list of offensive sayings of jesus?


  1. "If anyone will come to me and hates not his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, still and even his own soul, it is not possible to be my disciple."
    -Luke 14:26

    The impact of this verse in the 1st century is even stronger than it would be today, where people can sit loose to even immediate family ties. Among Jews whose primary sense of identity came from being biologically linked with Abraham, this claim is subversive and revolutionary. It well illustrates the reorientation of the true Israel, and thus who are Abraham's true children and family, around the person of Jesus.

    For us today, it ought to make us reevaluate all the bonds we may have with people. With whom am I more connected at the core of my being, my neighbor next door because he is an American citizen, or the Orthodox brother in Iraq who is under threat daily for living as a minority in an already war-torn country?

  2. Nice thoughts. I am also sick of that silly saying "they like jesus but not the church." I wonder if they would like Jesus if he appeared to them as he did to John in Revelation 1. Answer: they would not. And this same Jesus they supposedly like is the one who will send them to hell unless they repent.

    And who the heck are "they" anyways? "They" always turn out to be some hipster lesbian with tattoos that somebody met at a coffee shop.