Jesus is a lot of things to a lot of people.
Most folks are so biblically ignorant and the culture (and many a church) is so consumer centered that Jesus is made out to be whatever anyone wants him to be.
But there are 5 things that Jesus most definitely is not! (Well, there are actually quite a few more, but I’m gonna milk this meme for a couple more posts!)
1. Jesus is not your friend
Everybody wants to be Jesus’ friend. There’s even a maudlin hymn about it!
But guess what? Very few make the cut because there’s a price to pay if you want to be in Jesus’ circle of friends
“You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:4).”
God didn’t count Abraham as a friend just because he believed. It wasn’t until he obeyed that he entered that fairly small, very tight circle.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?â€¦. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness – and he was called a friend of God (James 2:21â€“23).”
So it’s likely that Jesus isn’t your friend. It’s possible, but only if you’ve put every meaningful human relationship in second place, yielded up every personal goal and interest, and given up the right to a life of self-directed comfort.
If you haven’t, then you aren’t Jesus’ friend.
And he’s not yours.
2. Jesus is not your gravy train
Other than making sure that your basic needs – enough to keep body and soul together – are met, Jesus doesn’t promise a life of surfeit, indolence and ease.
No guarantee of obedient kids with straight teeth, a smokin’ hot wife (or husband), immunity from disease or freedom from hard times. And that new car? Nope.
He does promise occasional hardship, spiritual opposition and – most important – sufficient grace to get through.
If you’re hearing something to the contrary where you go to church, it might be time to get off that gravy train and look elsewhere.
3. Jesus is not your cheerleader
Get used to the fact that you’re a role player, not the Coach.
Jesus isn’t real impressed that you’re a mega-church pastor, hot shot blogger with attitude to match, or a prolific soul winner.
He’s not keen on your goals and objectives, your plans and your grand vision for the future.
And he’s certainly not your cheerleader.
He’s your Lord, he’s on a mission, and he’s got a job for everyone. He bids this one come, and he comes. He commands that one to go, and he goes.
He has a role for you, too.
So fill it and stop worrying about the accolades. You’ll get what’s coming to you in due time.
4. Jesus is not impressed by your ministry
Because it’s not “yours.”
If it is, Jesus isn’t impressed.
Even if the church (or the ministry) is going gangbusters.
Don’t let numbers fool you. And fool you they will, especially if you’re ambitious, needy and ego centric. That’s a toxic brew of ungodly motivation that leads pastors and leaders to find their ego massage in accomplishments and applause rather than in the image they bear.
Jesus won’t share his lead role with anyone. So if you’ve got your arms around the church or that ministry in the palm of your hand then it’s not his, it’s yours. If he wants it he’ll twist your arm and peel back your fingers, and it’ll hurt. But more than likely he’ll let you have it and go build his Church someplace else.
If you’ve built it to prove something to somebody, Jesus isn’t impressed. If you’ve fashioned it to be consumer friendly, he’s not in it. If you’ve tailored it to meet needs in a niche market, he’s working elsewhere. He does his work by his Word and his Spirit, without varnish and fanfare.
If you’ve built it to make your life meaningful or to satisfy your ambition, Jesus isn’t impressed.
And neither are we.
5. Jesus is not whoever Bart Ehrman wants him to be
Or the Jesus Seminar.
Or the feminist theologians.
Or the liberation theologians.
Or the practitioners of the dark arts of higher criticism.
Or all the unbelieving academics ensconced comfortably in the bastions of liberal, pagan theology.
Nor is he but one path among many to God’s presence.
He’s not a mythic figure who evolved over the course of centuries as the faithful retrojected their hopes and beliefs onto an itinerant, charismatic Jewish preacher of the 1st century.
He is the one who says, “Unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sin.”