As I was diving into Alan and Debra Hirsch’s new book, “Untamed”, something very disturbing occurred to me about the way we view Jesus: I am seeing that our evangelical presentation of Jesus attracts people who don’t want to grow. Let me explain.
It has to do with the attitude of those “outside” the Church. Those who are invited in are told not to be influenced by “the world”…because after all, now we are “right”. We stop listening to those who are “wrong”, because we see them as in “darkness” (wrong). What is more disturbing is that our identity becomes so tied to the hope that we are “right”, that we even quit listening to others in the Church who don’t agree with us about things. In the name of not being “influenced”, we cut ourselves off to the reflections of ourselves through those around us whom God would try to use for our growth.
This very dynamic precludes the one thing that the REAL Jesus told us to do: Discipleship. Discipleship, by any definition, requires close proximity to people who will not agree with us about everything – and will challenge us by reflecting our blind spots. No wonder Jesus said that the “children of darkness are often wiser than the children of light”. I think He meant by that comment that we had better listen to those who don’t agree with us…they have something valuable to say to us. If we cannot learn from our brother who we can see, how can we possibly learn from God who we cannot see? (see 1John 4:20)
So, I don’t think a true image of Jesus will flatter us when our doctrine is “right”. The image of Jesus in the Gospels didn’t repel the sinners of world and attract the religious. Quite the opposite. He exposed the blind spots of the “righteous” while He drew the unholy to Him. He was irresistible to those who thought nothing of themselves, while those who thought of themselves as righteous only wanted to kill Him.
What is our image of Jesus?