Learning to trust Jesus can be hard, especially if you’ve been shown a counterfeit Jesus!
7 The name of the righteous [the correct image of Jesus] is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked [a false image of Jesus] will rot.
My friend, Cal, and I were talking yesterday about a friend of his who simply will not trust Christ. The fellow doesn’t see the need. “Scare tactics” haven’t worked; that’s where you tell him that if he doesn’t accept Jesus that he is going to hell–it’s not that it’s not true, but it’s the wrong motivation to come to Christ; Jesus desires a relationship, and a relationship cannot be built on fear. In fact, fear may be the very reason that the fellow won’t come to Christ. Consider this:
- IF he was raised in a strict, overly religious home,
- IF he was raised by a parent(s) who used hell as part of their manipulation or intimidation,
- IF he had a good friend who died of a terrible disease or in a freak car accident,
- IF he went to a church that only harped on money,
- IF he had someone in his life who represented Jesus and had a moral failure,
- THEN he may have rejected the Jesus he was shown–which is actually good–but threw out Jesus with the bath water, so to speak.
In, A More Christlike God, there is a section on Christian Polytheism. Here it is:
It was risky business for early Christians to hold up Christ as the image of the one true God. Their gospel confession demanded a rejection of Rome’s pantheon of pagan gods and the emperor’s demand for worship. And that meant persecution. But at least the choice was straightforward: Jesus is Lord and Jupiter is not. Jesus is Lord and Diana is not. Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.
But today, how are we to navigate the problem of polytheism (the belief in many gods) within Christianity? Let’s say there’s still a militaristic god of war, a patriotic god of nationalism, a puritan god of moralism, a partisan god of politics, and erotic god of promiscuity, a charismatic god of power, a prosperity god of consumerism, etc. Have these gods somehow survived and thrived, masquerading under the Christian brand? How might these gods inhabit and even direct the accredited Christian establishment? Do we see them lurking in the multitude of Christian sects, promising unwarranted immunity from the corruption of Christendom? All they needed to do was co-opt the name of Jesus. Talk about identity theft! Is it possible for the church to worship idols under a thin veneer of Christianese without even knowing it?
There are other “gods,” but I am going to have to do some research to find them. I will look for them.
The point is that Cal’s friend may have been shown a false image of Jesus. It happens all the time–way too often! We need to present the God that Jesus represented, who is a God of love and mercy and grace and compassion. If we present a Jesus who wants us next to Him both metaphorically and, later, literally, along with all of His other virtues, then I’ll bet more people would trust Jesus enough to give Him their lives. Listen to God’s words to us through Jesus:
28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” Matthew 11:28-30
How do I know these are God’s words? Here they are:
6 The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness,7 keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin [we’ll deal with the second part of this verse another time]. Exodus 34:6-7a
“God is love.” We do not need to fear Him. We can trust Him. Let’s show people this image of Jesus.
Abba, reveal Yourself to us so that we can represent You to others. May we be willing to listen to You when You tell us something different than what we have learned. We trust You. Amen.