I am grateful Jesus didn’t intimidate people with his righteousness. When Jesus left his home land (saying a prophet is not honored in his own home) he went to Galilee. And do you know why the Galileans accepted Him? It was because they’d been at a feast with Him, at a wedding party, and at the party Jesus had turned water into wine. Seriously. That’s why they liked Him. And it wasn’t because He gave them alcohol, it was likely because he was a likable guy. We like the people who make us feel good about ourselves, like we are worth something.
Did you know, Jesus is the only person who has ever walked the earth who knew, intuitively and truthfully, how priceless people were? How amazing is it that the one truly righteous man in all of history had a kind of righteousness that didn’t make people feel bad about themselves? And it’s not because He was such a nice guy, either. The woman at the well was crazy about Him, even after He spoke bluntly about her romantic disasters. In fact, stop reading this for a second and count the characters in scripture that rejected Jesus because they wanted to go on sinning? Now count the characters that rejected Him because of their religious hangups and self-righteousness. I’d say the latter outnumbers the former ten to one, at least.
Did Jesus have enemies? Did some people not like Him? Yes. People who used the ancient texts to lord over others with the tools of fear and shame and public humiliation and accusation were the enemies of Christ. To think those enemies of Christ do not still exist today in an evangelical context, even using Christ’s name and hiding behind His cause of the gospel, would be naieve. Jesus never controls anybody. He states truths, and is okay with the chaos it creates. Control is the enemy of relationship, and of love. The Gospel is about relationship and love, not force.
Most people who read this blog are Christians. Will you consider the idea that the temptations have not changed, that we are still more tempted by self-righteousness and pride than by anything else?
I’m reading through the gospels again, and I’m amazed at how much I am still drawn to Jesus in spite of all the guilt and shame and melodrama associated with evangelical Christianity. Maybe you could read John, and ask yourself whether or not you would feel safe with Jesus, or whether or not He would open up a “Bible” and make you feel guilty and ashamed about how wrong you are. When Christian leaders do this sort of thing, they play into Satan’s little trap, trying to associate Jesus with verbal intimidation. Does Jesus verbally intimidate? Sure He does. He verbally intimidates the religious leaders of His time who are bound to a “gospel of being right” and a “gospel of right actions.” Reconsider Jesus. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.