I really like Jesus. He was great, wasn’t he? All radical and visionary and sticking-it-to-the-man type action (Have you seen the actor that’s playing Jesus? I particularly like that version).
He’s not particularly comfortable though. Just as CS Lewis described Aslan as ‘… not a tame lion’, Jesus also was not tame. And if you had been around at the same time as he was, not a particularly relaxing person to ‘have a personal relationship’ with, I suspect.
Jesus has become so sanitised. I was going to say ‘lately’ but then I remembered the picture that my Nan has in her kitchen of Jesus, all conditioned beard and pastel robes and halo and lambs and it shows me that this isn’t a new thing.
But actually, he annoyed a lot of people. He pissed off the religious leaders and the powers that be in general and if you thought that life was going along quite nicely thank you, he probably had some pointed questions for you to answer. Most people wouldn’t vote for someone with a vision like Jesus if they stood for election today because he demanded too much, challenged too fiercely and asked the hard questions about just how we want our society to be.
And of course the irony connected to the fact that many christians are also political conservatives would be something that I would find hilarious if it wasn’t so painfully real.
It’s all in Matthew. I don’t need to quote swathes of it; you’re probably familiar with the message even if you haven’t actually read it (It’s good though. You should. I love a biblical action plan rather than crazy Revelations rhetoric). Help the poor. Be merciful (Define that as you wish but I don’t think that war and unlawful imprisonment fall in to most definitions). Social Justice as a major building block for a just society, one that impacts not just the most needy but also the environment and consumerism and discrimination…
Well, just everything, really.
On an unrelated but still related note, a country that needs to spend as much time trying to learn how to declutter as we do has got screwed up priorities. Google ‘decluttering in Australia. 1,430,000 results.
Authentically following Jesus is counter cultural and uncomfortable.
Mind you, I don’t do it, even though I think its an amazing idea. I’ve spent my entire life making decisions that keep me within my comfort zone. In fact, on reflection, if I look at the major decisions that I’ve made in my life, I can now (a little late) easily identify that they were made essentially because they put few demands on me and kept me within the parameters of what I can do without actually pushing myself or evolving. I’ve also become very good at persuading people to let me carry on in that manner which probably isn’t a great thing but let’s not make this about all about me.
Following Jesus can absolutely start with ‘being nice to the people that you see on a day to day basis’ but I think that it probably needs to progress to more than that. Especially because the people that we meet on a day to day basis are very likely people ‘Just Like Us’ – that don’t require us to do hard things or reconsider our values or exercise patience and love on a really monumental level.
Jesus didn’t just live in his own head. He didn’t just have good ideas about the way that things should be and discuss them with his friends and then go fishing. He wasn’t about making people feel secure, and I suspect that if the idea of Jesus makes you all warm and fuzzy then he may have failed in his mission a little. And if you want to share your faith with people, share that you believe that Jesus is Lord and all that entails, then I hope that you really, really understand exactly what you are saying. Because you’re calling for a radical re-evaluation of how most of us live our lives and that is some serious, comfort zone stretching stuff right there.