I love me a good ‘satire-as-truth’ article, so here’s a little bit of reality-based humor from over at the Babylon Bee:
SEATTLE, WA—After reading several chapters from the gospels over the weekend, local progressive believer Wendy Butler reportedly published a Patheos blog post in which she criticized Jesus of Nazareth for “not being very Christlike.”
The blog post took Jesus to task for His “unloving and problematic” teachings.“He devotes entire sections of His sermons to ranting about archaic religious concepts like hell and the last judgment instead of just coming alongside the marginalized and affirming their sins,” Butler said. “Very little of what He did on earth I would describe as life-giving. Frankly, I do a better job of being Christlike than Christ Himself.”
Zing! Is anyone offended?
Our experiences lead the way when defining how we think about God, its partially true. It isn’t right, but it’s true. How can some have such a reverent outlook while others dismantle Jesus down to nuts and bolts only to put Him back together how they’d like to see Him? To be fair, it plays out on both sides of the fence, the end result being the same, a kind of build-your-own-Jesus that never really resembles the real one.
I’ve known people whose Jesus still lives up on a cross , defeated and sad. They revere Him but know none of His power. Others take a more charismatic view, Jesus is their sandal-wearing buddy, here to serve or comfort in time of need. We conveniently take certain passages from the Good Book and use them to reinforce ‘our Jesus’. Each side has their go-to verses they like to use: “He hung out with sinners!” vs. “He turned over the tables in righteous anger!” and everything in between.
Here’s the rub: we are all human with vastly differing views and experiences. The minute we start trying to form the Word to suit our agenda is the moment we might as well toss in the towel. We have to begin with Jesus. He is our starting place. We don’t need to pull out passages that prove our point, we need to just point to Him.
Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
We are told in Proverbs that wisdom and knowledge is found when we seek it out like treasure and when we cry out for discernment (2:3-4). We do have the answers, and they actually are kind of a “one size fits all” in the sense that Jesus is who He is. Now, of course He deals with us on a most personal level and it is a beautiful thing, because we are certainly not one size fits all people. He knows our life road map that got us where we are, our quirks, our wounds, the silly stuff we believe that may not be entirely true, He gets it. He just offers us all a clear lifeline out of the muddy waters and into the Living Waters of truth.
There’s a lot of buzz lately in Christian (especially womens) circles about the need to be brave and fierce and true to your ‘tribe’. It’s all about that ‘tribe’. That’s all fantastic, provided your tribe is grounded in the truth of God’s Word. We are meant to support one another, but we are not meant to replace Jesus for someone else. That’s the thing about following the feelings, they aren’t solid and what’s true today may not be six months from now.
There’s a lot of truth to the satire, we decide we know whats best and what Jesus really meant when He said such and such. We tweak it a bit to fit our desires. And it takes off like wildfire into the next thing and the next, and before we know it, Biblical Jesus is a blurry image in the rear view mirror and we are taking off full steam ahead on the feelings train that we have no business driving. When you have voices inside Christianity doubling down on distorting the gospels to fit a hurting culture, you wind up with half the listeners believing a lie and the other half left either in fear of speaking up or disgusted confusion.
“Your Jesus is meeeeaaannn. I don’t like mean. I like tolerance. Jesus loves everyone. It isn’t right to hurt and exclude people the way you do.”
“Your Jesus is a hippie. The real Jesus stood for truth and justice and would never put up with sin. It isn’t right to be so permissive of outright sin.”
While we’re busy firing off cheap shots at the other camp, that ugly snake slithers away hissing and grinning at having performed his duty to perfection.
When Jen Hatmaker and others came out in support of gay unions as godly and permissive, the church understandably fired back. I read a LOT of the responses and fallout when this happened and I can honestly say the disagreement was for the most part, civil but strong. Her response to it all was to attack the ‘Christian Machine’ that oh so predictably called her out on her claims. There were many heartfelt, well thought out responses to their very heartfelt departure from Biblical teaching. I’m not attacking her, I’m pointing out that when we place our self and feelings at the center of our arguments its a losing battle. When the argument becomes about ‘you’ it’s over. The vast majority of people weren’t attacking her, they were standing up for long-held Biblical truth, which, by the way, we are supposed to do in love. If our response is to shut others down and (like the lovely young lady in the satire article) imply we have the upper hand on compassion that Jesus Himself doesn’t seem to have, well then, prepare for some healthy debate coming your way.
We are all fallible and prone to wander. We all want the latest hot take of how to make this life thing work to our advantage. Most Christians I know of, Hatmaker included, want to mend hurting hearts and bring people to Jesus. Nobody wants to be smacked upside the head with a hard cover King James and told they’re scum. And those who have been pulled from the ledge will tell you they don’t want to be coddled in their sin either. (See Rosaria Butterfield’s beautiful essay on that topic if you want to be encouraged about speaking truth in love).
We are mandated, by Jesus Himself to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31) AND honor Christ as Lord, being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; doing it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). So the two dueling-Jesus guys actually do meet up in the middle! They both exist! Let the truth speak for itself. We miss so very much when we try and mold Jesus to be how we want Him to be. Let the entire Word of God be your home base, your safety, your map; the real Jesus will show up in ways you’d never expect.
The Babylon Bee has an uncanny ability to strike a chord with every article they produce!
Haha I know I love them… every one stings just a little.
Thought provoking! Thanks for the post!
Exactly on point, sister.
Strong post! Thoughtful, well-reasoned and expressed! Thank you.
Oh my gosh—I think I’m still stuck back up there on the first paragraph standing in utter disbelief….’Christ being un-Christ like’—-ok, so now I know that a day will no longer pass without there being something totally and absolutely absurd when I will have thought nothing can get any more absurd!!!!
Here’s the thing… Jesus was much about loving our neighbors and doing unto others all the time—but he was also a very devout Jew—very devout—and He understood the Law of God probably better than anyone—He totally got and understood that there are tenants created by God for man—-as in some rules and regulations—man follows them and life is good, man does not and life is not good—we may just ask Adam and Eve about that very notion….
Jesus knew and taught that we were / are to honor the Lord our God—honor means to respect, fear, obey…all sort of various words…many of which now run counter to our post modern society.
God is love yes…but He is also God—not Santa Claus and not our best friend—He is I AM—
He is the Creator and we are the created…and it seems some of us just don’t get that…..
Amen sister!! That’s why I resonated with this article, it’s making fun yes, but it’s saying things people are actually thinking when they decide Jesus is just a loving, passive ‘nice guy’… and then the read other passages where He demonstrated His justice and authority and are taken aback by it. It is absurd when we compartmentalize Him in a way that isn’t honest to who He is. Thanks for reading and your response, I’m right there with you! 🙂
Your thoughts on the various versions of my Lord said with love and humour – as you well pointed out we are all human with vastly differing views and experiences trying to compartmentalise Jesus into our frame of reference and arguing about the frame. .How can we with our puny minds ever hope to hold onto the entire truth of G-d. We just need to look to him for truth which will be revealed in His own time.
Thank you, wise words indeed!