People never expect the real Jesus

Monday Musings for July 26, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

I grew up Roman Catholic… and participated in its sacraments from baptism through confirmation. But I “left” — that is, I stopped attending church after my confirmation. That was almost 60 years ago, and except for weddings and funerals, I have not attended a mass since.

I only bring this up to give you my bona fides... letting you know that I am not an Evangelical taking potshots at Catholics. Instead, I’ve come to testify through the eyes of a young boy: Catholics have a creepy and effeminate version of Jesus. No boy who aspires to be a man would identify with their representation of Mary’s less-adored and decidedly unfortunate Son.

My story has a happy ending: I found the real Jesus! But it’s not just the Catholics who sell Jesus short. People at large usually have an incomplete picture of him. Unfortunately, this is true of many evangelicals, too. Some of our number sully the gospel with their tacit agreement with people who say, “Living a good life will get you to heaven.” or “A loving God would not send anyone to hell.” or “Don’t worry. God will fix things so that everyone will be saved!”

The problem, of course, is that God won’t save everyone. So, if you are taking the “edge” off the gospel by implying that there are other ways to heaven, you do not know the biblical Jesus — the real Jesus. The real Jesus is the salvifically exclusive: “No one comes to the Father except through me” he taught in John 14:6.

Fortunately for the unsaved, that singular portal of salvation is universally available: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV, emphasis mine).

Today’s treatise is, if you are not offending people, you are probably not preaching the gospel. And if you are not offending people, you are probably not presenting the true Jesus. The true Jesus makes people stumble over their expectations! (1 Corinthians 1:23). So be prepared for people to stub their toes and say bad words to you when you present the truth about the only person who can save them from their sins (Acts 4:12).

Now, I’m not telling you to go out and pick a fight. The gospel will do that for you! But only the true gospel will do that for you... the one that calls for repentance... the abandonment of self-effort... the reliance on another person to save you. Jesus Christ has not come to be your buddy or to make you rich. He has come to redeem you from your sins and be Lord of your life.

But he has also come to make you family. When you “receive” Christ — when you become “born again” by the Spirit of God (John 3:3) — God becomes your Father, Jesus Christ becomes your brother (Mark 3:34)… and you can relax a bit and enjoy their company. The implication, however, is that you will have joined the family business… the business of teaching, baptizing and making disciples of all nations.

 

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