Manipulating Jesus into your own ideological image

30 Dec

From Jason A Van Bemmel:

Recently, the group “Kissing Fish” (promoting peace and unity between Christians and Darwinists) posted this graphic statement on facebook, which was shared and liked by many people:

This post represents a very popular and deeply flawed view of Jesus that is difficult to reconcile with the Gospels or with historic orthodox Christianity. What I find deeply disturbing is the fact that so many professing Christians think this is accurate and even Biblical (notice the reference to Matthew 6:5).

The post references Matthew 6:5, which is part of the Sermon on the Mount. I know the Sermon on the Mount well. I preached 38 messages on it. I love it. This post conveniently lifts one verse and takes it out of context as proof that Jesus was against public prayer. Jesus was against using public prayer as a means of exalting yourself and making yourself appear righteous, which is certainly a problem among religious folks (then and now). But no first-century Jew could have been against public prayer itself; it was a central feature of Biblical faith then and now.

The post missed something else in The Sermon on the Mount: 

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV, emphasis added)

Oh, well, we don’t like that part, so we just like to gloss over it. Yet it comes right after “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and right before “turn the other cheek” (the non-violence stuff).

It’s very popular – always has been – for people to pick and choose the aspects of Jesus they like and invent other aspects out of thin air.

So here are some clarifying facts, for the record:

1. Jesus affirmed the whole Old Testament Law and strengthened its moral standards. When He said, “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law,” this includes the many references in the Old Testament Law banning homosexual activity as perverse.

2. Jesus upheld the creation design of marriage as between male and female (Matthew 19:4-5) and had strict standards for divorce (Matt. 5:31-32 & 19:8-9)

3. Jesus did reach out in love to sinners of all kinds- including self-righteous sinners- but His design in doing so was always to save people from their sin, not to affirm them in their sin. (For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” – Luke 19:10)

4. The idea that Jesus was a “community organizing” “revolutionary” in some Marxist sense is anachronistic (an out-of-time reference). It’s not helpful or accurate. He did not organize protests, sit-ins, revolts, etc. In fact, quite the opposite, He said things like “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Luke 20:25 and John 18:36)

5. Jesus was not an anti-weapon pacifist. He recognized that in times of crisis, it is good to be prepared to defend yourself (let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” – Luke 22:36).

I know these truths are inconvenient to those who want to adopt Jesus as the poster-child for the radical left. To be fair, Jesus is also full of inconvenient truths for those who want to adopt Him as the standard-bearer for the radical right, too.

Jesus’ kingdom agenda is not “revolutionary” in the worldly, political sense. It’s far bigger, better and more important than the right or the left.  He comes to bring in His own kingdom, one of righteousness, peace with God, redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness and joy. Yet to enter His kingdom, we must come to the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus who affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture and God’s high standard of holiness. We need to be broken in humility by His law so that we can be healed and transformed by His Gospel.

And this is where the real danger lies in reckless descriptions of Jesus like the one posted by Kissing Fishes: If this is the Jesus you believe in, then you do not believe in the Jesus of the Bible. You do not know the real Jesus and you do not know true salvation. I know that sounds harsh and judgmental, but it’s not intended to be. I mean it in love and humility, so let me clarify:

If you were to come up to me and tell me that you had a wonderful conversation with my wife in a coffee shop yesterday, I would react with surprise and say, “I didn’t know my wife was in a coffee shop yesterday.” If you then proceeded to tell me how the 5’1″ blonde you spoke with told you all about her 6 kids and her job at a local school, I would stop you and say, “I’m sorry, but the person you met yesterday is not my wife.” I would say that not to be rude but simply because the description you gave me makes it impossible that you really met and spoke with my wife (who matches none of those descriptors).

Some of the things in the post by Kissing Fishes are accurate, but the overall picture is mis-leading and does not match the Jesus we find portrayed in the Gospels. So if His earliest followers who wrote the first accounts of His life would not recognize this Jesus, is it really Jesus who is being described? I don’t think so. It’s a “Jesus” of leftist imaginations and, ultimately, a Jesus who is not real and who cannot save.

Read the rest

%d bloggers like this: