Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Old Touchy-Feely Jesus

An article was posted elsewhere about how Jesus used some rather harsh words. There are people who have an unscriptural view of Jesus that I detest: Wimpy. That comes from a preference-based view of love. Jesus is God incarnate (and, therefore, love incarnate), so how should he act? Perhaps it depends on your definition of "love". For that matter, your definition may differ from mine, and both of us may differ from a child's definition. If you grab Junior to stop him from wandering into a busy street and then give him a stern warning, he may say that you do not love him because you restrained him, got his attention and spoiled his fun.

You expressed love with your words and actions, even though they seemed harsh to the child. He will understand, eventually. But at the moment, it seems unkind and unfair.

Jesus was not always Mr. Nice Guy. He expressed righteous anger, spoke harshly and even acted physically (for example, John 2.15-16). People who are not all that familiar with their Bibles are surprised to hear that Jesus "acted that way". For that matter, the thinking patterns of some atheists work like this: Jesus was full of wimpy love. You acted in a stern manner. Therefore, God does not exist. Similarly, some church people can judge us: Jesus was full of wimpy love. You acted in a stern manner. Therefore, you are a bad Christian because you do not fit my uninformed preconceptions. (By the way, John the Baptist was not Mr. Nice Guy, either, Matt. 3.7-9 NIV. Or the apostle Paul, Gal. 5.12 ESV.)

But back to the topic at hand. Jesus is gentle, of course (Matt. 11.29, Luke 18.16, Luke 23.34). But our Savior got a bit rough at times, you see. Does this give the Christian license to speak or act harshly?

Be careful! Remember, the Bible does say, "Be angry and do not sin" (Eph. 4.26). Anger itself is not a sin (contrary to some opinions), but we have to be very careful not to sin in our anger. We should examine just how Jesus used harsh words and anger.
  • He got their attention
  • He spoke the direct truth of what they needed to hear
  • He never sinned or acted outside of love
  • He did not do it frequently
  • He usually targeted "religious" people that were burdening others with man-made rituals
  • He never allowed anger to control him
  • He did not act in haste or under impulse
My goal is to stir people into thinking, get their attention, speak the truth. I will not kid anyone, I am a sinful man and have misused anger and harsh words when I let emotion take control. When we walk in the Spirit, we are not carrying out the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5.16), and one of these is "fits of anger". We should seek to walk in the Spirit and show the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23). Then, when we need to show anger or speak in less than gentle (or coddling) terms, we can help the cause of the gospel, not harm it. Always walking in love, and in the Spirit.


Rhomphaia (Sword) said...

Great post!
(And thank U 4 the link!)

I brought this topic up because some almost suggest that the Bible has Volume 1 and Volume 2 (which, in their opinion, leaves room for more volumes)...because "God is soooo different in them"....but it's just not so.

He was exceedingly merciful to the Hebrews!

And He was exceedingly tough on the 'religious leaders' in the NT!

Nicey, nice? Hmmp!
(Jesus said-)John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil

Can't we quote Him when appropriate?
(And the rest of that verse describes when that would be.)

Thag Jones said...

Totally agree with this. Sometimes people need the unvarnished truth, and sometimes it requires being blunt. I can't stand this "wimpy Christian" idea - Jesus was not a wimp! Anyone who thinks He was a wimp must not know the first thing about Him! What's weak is lashing out in unrestrained anger, as people seem to like to do so much.

asoldierforjesus said...

Thanks, Thag. Would that I had thought to include what you just stated, that lashing out in unrestrained anger is a sign of weakness. Hmmm... since that is such a popular thing to do, perhaps I should read Charles Stanley's new book, Living in an Angry World.

Thag Jones said...

It doesn't take a genius to be able to see that uncontrolled rage comes from a place of weakness, feeling powerless, lack of self-control and self-indulgence. It usually doesn't feel very good once it's over, which is one sign. It also causes damage rather than accomplishing anything worthwhile. Directed anger, on the other hand, as you see from Jesus, has purpose and, if heard, accomplishes reform.

The Jesus-as-Ned-Flanders meme is ridiculous - and the expectation that anyone who calls himself a Christian should also behave like Ned Flanders is ludicrous.

asoldierforjesus said...

Maybe I should write something about how Hollyweird portrays Christians. We are almost never the strong ones or the heroes. That kind of article might be t-diddly-riffic.

Rhomphaia (Sword) said...

You must use Archie Bunker for that!!! :-)

stormbringer005 said...

Although Archie Bunker's "quotes" were funny ("If God's really sore at ya, he'll turn your jawbone into an ass!") and his arguments amusing, they fit into Norman Lear's philosophies. The "Christian" Archie Bunker was uninformed, emotional and rather stupid. Atheist Mike was rational and usually cool-headed. Yep, Archie certainly was a great role model for Christians, wasn't he?

Rhomphaia (Sword) said...

it is just as you said:
"We are almost never the strong ones or the heroes."

And in the case of Archie- we're the NUTS!