We think we’ve got Jesus figured out today. We read about him turning tables in the Scriptures. But now he’s nice. Now he’s calm. Now he sits by himself, drinking tea, interrupting his repose to grant us whatever we want. He doesn’t ask us to change, and he doesn’t want us to do any heavy lifting. He makes life easy for us.
So I suggest in a piece I once wrote for Desiring God called “You Will Never Be the Same.” Here’s a selection:
Whether we know it or not, we’ve got Jesus domesticated. We think we’ve calmed him down, cleaned him up, and talked to him in an inside voice. Now he’s renounced his disruptive ways. No more of this “sell everything you have and follow me” (Mark 10:21). No more of this “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). No more forsaking all, no more unrelenting holiness, no more explosively exclusive truth claims. Jesus is on an apology tour. He’s holding a press conference at noon and he wants to tell everyone how he’s a changed man.
Let me quickly trace five ways this kind of mindset plays out for many professing Christians today.
1) We think we’re owed peace, happiness, ease, and luxury. Many of us live in a relatively super-prosperous society. We think everybody has what we have. Without knowing it, many of us have bought into a narcissistic way of life common to modern Western life. We think we’re owed happiness. We use the language of “deserving” good things, even though Scripture militates against it. If we do something hard, or face something challenging, we instinctively crave a reward. Volunteer your time? Complete a tough project? You deserve a cookie.
2) We think hardship is the exception to the rule. We forget–or simply don’t read much about–how believers in the Bible faced regular hardship. Many of us frankly haven’t had this experience. This isn’t to place blame on us. It’s a good thing to not be attacked, persecuted, or suffering. But if we’re not careful, if our minds are not steeped in Scripture, then we’ll tend to feel really, really sorry for ourselves when suffering comes. We’ll lash out. We’ll get angry at God. We’ll accuse him like angry little kids who aren’t getting their way. Meanwhile, we’ve somehow forgotten Hebrews 11 and the cold, hard reality that following Christ often amps up hardship and suffering, not the other way around.
3) We don’t want Jesus to ask us to do hard things. Because of the first two factors, we think gospel faith is fundamentally about living in ease, comfort, and luxury. Jesus, as I say in the DG piece, wraps us up in a Snuggie blanket when he saves us. Life is easy. Consequently, we don’t want to do hard things. We don’t want to tackle major challenges. We don’t want to approach our work with renewed vision. We don’t care that much about the spiritual life of our families. We leave evangelism and church service to others.
4) We think that Jesus isn’t really on mission anymore, so we don’t have to be. Jesus is in retirement, in modern Protestant thinking. He’s not all hopped up about holiness. He’s in a grandfatherly state now. He doesn’t hunt down demons. He sits on his porch and plays nice. But here’s the thing: this is totally, comprehensively wrong. Jesus is awake. Jesus is on mission for his glory. Jesus is not sleeping. He is not meek and mild. He is coming, and he’s got cosmic dominion on his mind.
5) We’re afraid of taking risks and getting active. We’ve got to wake up. We’ve got to sober up. We need to get on mission, too. We need to stop playing life safe. We need to stop thinking we’re owed luxury and ease. We’re not. Most of the apostles died in ministry. Many Christians all over the world suffer on account of Christ. We don’t need to be foolish here, but we should plunge into the work of the Great Commission. Whatever our vocation, whether we’re changing diapers or taking exams or running boardrooms, we can participate in the promotion of Christ’s dominion.
Let’s get after it.
Originally published at Thought Life.