Telling it like it is. – OR – A different Jesus.

Over 17 – 18 months ago, when I was still a volunteer leader, teaching and encouraging the young adults and whoever I would speak to in the church I used to attend…

I would teach that we should go to those in the world and “be Jesus” to those around us; be a friend to those that the “religious” would cringe at the sight of.  Not just be a friend in the “Oh, hey neighbor.” type of way, but a down in the trenches, showing love and grace to them type of way.  I would also warn them that when they did that, the “system” could very well turn on them, disapprove of their actions, etc.  Because that’s what modern Pharisees do.  Then within a week or two, coincidentally, there would be a sermon in church about “bad company corrupting good character” and how we should choose wisely who we are around…

Once my eyes were opened to the power of the Cross, I stopped teaching the Law and the curse, especially when it came to giving and began teaching to give and bless according to who you are in Christ.  People used to come to me asking how to give and if they would be cursed if they don’t, totally scared and convinced that God would curse them for not tithing.  After comforting and encouraging them with the Truth, like clockwork…coincidentally of course, there would be a sermon within the next couple weeks about the curse brought on by not tithing and how we need to “make sure” we are far away from that curse so we could be a blessing to others…

I would encourage to let the abundance of God and His Grace work naturally in you to produce the fruit He intended and to serve out of the abundance of what is inside you (you know, that whole rivers of living water thing?) and within a few weeks there would be a sermon about dead and graceless works…

I would teach that in order to “fall from Grace” you have to follow the Law and that sin has been dealt with at the Cross.  I would teach about keeping the Cross central and focusing on the One we fashion our name after (you know, CHRISTians).  I would encourage them to renew their minds and focus on the promises of being a new creation, and allowing God to do the Work he set out to do.  Within a few weeks there would be sermons about sin causing separation from God and a fall from grace as if the Cross did nothing…

I would impart grace to those who “fall down”, because I was right there with them in the trenches, understanding and knowing the bitter taste and shame that hitting the dirt brings with it.  I wouldn’t bullshit them or offer up empty, flowery religious talk.  I would show them that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and that their mistake wasn’t the end.  I would help them get up.  Yet there were countless sermons on behavior modification and sin management…

I would teach truth as I understood it and I would share what I have found and I would notice that so many times it was contrary to a lot being taught by those in “official” leadership, and I was reading the same Bible…

And people wonder why I’m not a part of that system anymore…

People wonder why I’m seeking Christ outside of the four walls calling itself “church”…

Here is my “” moment, it was slowly brewing and has finally come to a clear thought:

I believe in a different Jesus than they do.

You know what?  That actually brings a little more peace in my life and a lot less frustration.  It helps bring sanity to all of the questions that I have when I compare things that I used to listen to, learn about and agree with during my 10+ years of being a part of two different church “families”.  It calms my nerves when I want to blow up because I hear a pastor or some evangelist on TV trying to get you to give your money to them to get a blessing from God or to remove a curse.

Yes, I definitely believe in a different Jesus.

Let me give you an example, or two.

If you believe in the concept/doctrine of tithing  and you believe the curse of the Law still exists or applies to the Christian and that tithing is a requirement…  Then you believe in a different Jesus than I do.  I believe in a Jesus that fulfilled the requirements of Law and redeemed us from the curse.  Furthermore, I believe in a Jesus that did away with the old covenant and established a new covenant.  I believe in a Jesus that wants you to give according to who you are in Him.

A second example:  If you believe that Jesus requires old testament type worship, then we believe in a different Jesus.  We no longer have to “enter his gates with thanksgiving” and his “courts with praise”…we are the Temple!  We are The Body!  There is no amount of worship that you can do, as part of the body, to be more “filled up”.  Our worship and adoration of him should come as a natural by-product of living a life in and with him, and can take many forms and not just singing songs.

As I am brewing at this moment on a post regarding conviction, I’ll merely say this here:  I do not believe that the two versions of Jesus presented are compatible in the slightest.  One fulfilled the Law and nullified the curse and one still enforces it along with the curse.  One requires you to worship Him and only then He manifests his presence, the other is fully living in the believer and you can’t worship enough, pray enough, read enough scripture, etc to be “filled up”.  It is God who does the filling!

Do I think I am better than you?  No.  Better off..?  Maybe.  I’m sure that my “version”, if you want to call it that, of Jesus is still a caricature of who he really is, and I hope that as I continue to question and come to know him better, I can erase more of the caricature as I embrace the real.

To quote one of my favorite of George MacDonald’s “Unspoken Sermons”:  The Truth In Jesus.  Emphasis in italics and bold are mine.  It’s fun trying to read this in a Scottish accent, because he was a Scot.

How have we learned Christ? It ought to be a startling thought, that we may have learned him wrong. That must be far worse than not to have learned him at all: his place is occupied by a false Christ, hard to exorcise! The point is, whether we have learned Christ as he taught himself, or as men have taught him who thought they understood, but did not understand him. Do we think we know him–with notions fleshly, after low, mean human fancies and explanations, or do we indeed know him–after the spirit, in our measure as God knows him? The Christian religion, throughout its history, has been open to more corrupt misrepresentation than ever the Jewish could be, for as it is higher and wider, so must it yield larger scope to corruption:–have we learned Christ in false statements and corrupted lessons about him, or have we learned himself? Nay, true or false, is only our brain full of things concerning him, or does he dwell himself in our hearts, a learnt, and ever being learnt lesson, the power of our life?”

I first read this quote probably three of four years ago and it was, indeed, a startling thought.  Have I learned a Christ, a false Christ, a gross caricature taught by men, or do I know him after the Spirit?

It still is a startling thought.  I don’t want a false Christ occupying the space that He should be in.  Or false thoughts, ideas and caricatures of and about Christ crowding the throne he is supposed to be seated on in my heart.

What about you?


3 thoughts on “Telling it like it is. – OR – A different Jesus.

  1. Good stuff. This is something that I’ve been “evolving” with over the last year. A lot of what I believed was, “Okay, I have the gospel. I believe that Christ died for me. Now let’s get to work.” Or “How do I know I’m saved? If I do good works, and when I don’t do good works, I question if I’m saved.”

    Since then I’ve realized that I’m a Christian because Christ died for me. I am a sinner, and I cannot believe in Christ, then pull myself up by my bootstraps. Sin remains, but I have the external Word of God that promises salvation because Christ paid for it, not because I believe then try to do good works.

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