Jonathan Trotter, writer and pastoral counselor, in a recent Instagram post asked an intentionally provocative question—one that I have never been asked: Would I have liked Jesus had I met him during His life? And it offended me. At first ask, I answered, out of rehearsed reflex more than wrestled through thought, with an unequivocal “yes!” And then I read the expository layers to his question and suddenly my unequivocal yes looked a bit too…well, fake.
Trotter writes, “Would you even like Jesus? Would you like him if he came into your church and started yelling about houses of prayer? Or would you call him just another angry man? Would you like him if he told you to sell even some of your stuff and give the proceeds to the poor? Or would you call him a socialist? Would you like him if he told you to stop sleeping with people you weren’t married to? Or would you call him a legalist? What if you realized he wasn’t a Republican? Or a Democrat? Or white?”
“Would you like him if you found him crying by himself on a hillside, talking about a rebellious city? Or would you call him an emotional wreck? I don’t know, would I even like him?” Trotter continues.
We sanitize and sanctify Jesus, stripping him of context and personality, until he looks (we think) like us.
“What about the time he let those guys chop up an innocent man’s roof? Would you like it if he hadn’t planned ahead and all of a sudden asked you to feed a few thousand people? What would you think when he dozed off during a life-threatening storm?”
And there it is, I’m already not liking this Jesus. If I had met him then, actually met him and lived with him—the things written above, if I’m honest with myself, really honest with myself, would infuriate me. Let’s be real, I would never let my husband do even one of those things on that list. Cut a hole in my roof, ummmm…hard no. Feed ten people with no warning (let alone thousands!), again, that boy is dreaming!
Trotter is right, “He is not as tame as we make him, after all.” And that is a core reason we, as the church, aren’t moving mountains in the ways and breadths that we are meant to. We’ve become too polite. Too docile. We took a radical reality, GOD in human flesh and put a PC lens on it.
Doubt me? Church, “would you like him when he let the prostitute get a little too close? Or would you start to wonder about his dedication to purity? Would you like him when he befriended your political enemy, visiting his house and sharing a meal? Or would that be a red (or blue) line crossed
If I want him, the fullness of what he died for, I cannot rewrite his story.
Trotter finishes, “you see, we sanitize and sanctify Jesus, stripping him of context and personality, until he looks (we think) like us. But he’s not like us. Thank God.”
“So, would you like him?”
“What if he showed up in your deepest pain and you saw his eyes, red with mercy and compassion? Would you like him then? What if you heard him cry, “Forgive them!” And you knew he was talking about you? Would you like him then? Would you run to him, grasping his sleeve for acceptance and love?”
That Jesus, that Jesus I would like—I would run to, I would give everything to. He’s the Jesus I know so well. But the aforementioned Jesus, he is the one I need to wrestle with and be more like. There aren’t two Jesus’. If I want him, the fullness of what he died for, I cannot rewrite his story, character, actions or love. I can’t rewrite Jesus to fit into a polite unoffensive lens. Why? Because round pegs do not fit into square holes.
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