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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Christ-likeness defined...

Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that we are to let the mindset that was alive in Jesus also be our mindset. We are supposed to not simply emulate Christ, but we are to think like He did.
Life would have me believe we don’t do this very well.
The fact is that while I have experienced Jesus internally, spiritually, even emotionally, I have never had a second person, two-people-hanging-out-together sort of experience. The last people to have done that were the Apostles. In fact, having a physical connection to Jesus was what specifically made one an Apostle and it’s why the apostolic age ended around 90 A.D.
So all I have to go on, as far as what Jesus would be like and how He would react to my life and my situation, is what I read of Him in the Bible, what I’ve experienced in my heart…and how His followers react to me and amongst each other.
And to be honest, if I had to come to some sort of character assessment of Jesus, based on His followers, I’d be badly disappointed.
If I judged Jesus based on His followers I might surmise…
  • Jesus would prefer to throw money at a given situation than to actually get involved with the broken people that situation produces. He'd rather stuff cash in your hand and send you on your way, than hold your hand through your dark lonely night.
  • Jesus really finds Christians who still struggle with sin and failure very annoying and He avoids them at all costs, even going so far as to rebuke them heartily for their miserable lack of faith that produces such failure.
  • Jesus only really likes people who have it all together, and He tries hard to like people who don’t but, who refuse to admit they don’t. Jesus is big on pretenders. 
  • Jesus likes charlatans and heretics who have big, successful ministries because Jesus loves successful people even if their success is tainted by their horrifying actions on a personal level. He looks the other way at their porn-of-Solomon books and their cruel cult-like management of their churches because,  Hey…they’re successful and isn't that a better reflection on Jesus than some broken, people-loving little pastor who toils away in anonymity but deeply loves his people because he deeply knows his people? 
  • Forget all that stuff about Jesus being poor and homeless and so broke he had to be buried in a borrowed tomb. Jesus was a great business man and he expects his shepherds to be rich, successful businessmen as well. I mean who’d follow Jesus if it meant leaving everything behind? That whole “Rich young ruler” thing was only for the 3 ½ years Jesus was on the earth.
  • Everything you need to be a huge success is right there in the Bible. If you aren’t successful there is a faith problem. If you aren’t successful you don’t work hard enough. If you aren’t successful, you need to repent of something, and you need to be very quiet and stay out of sight until you are successful.
  • If your life is broken and damaged and it hurts being you…suck it up big boy! Your testimony of barely being able to hang on as your life disintegrates is very damaging to the “cause of Christ”. Why should someone come to Jesus if it means they’ll have hardship and struggles like you do, you loser? How can we “sell Jesus” in the marketplace if they see people like you? So what if most people are like you! They don’t really want to be…they really want to be like US, and with you around, they might not see what it is they have to shoot for.
  • Praise your way out of it! Raise your hands as if you’re happy…or at least remember what it felt like to be happy. Let your eyes gloss over and sway to the beat…the same, repetitive, uninspired, unimaginative, beat that the rest of us sway to every single Sunday. Except for Christmas…when we sing Christmas songs.
  • Forget those things which are behind! Get over it! Forget that house you lost and those pets and that marriage and that child who died suddenly and the life you once had where you were happy. Forget the failed business and the broken dreams and the feeling like life is racing by you and can’t keep up with it. Let go of the brokenness of disappointment. Nobody guaranteed your happiness. And your sorrow is messing with MY happiness. Stop getting your tears all over my great life!
  • Jesus did the whole “Friend of Sinners Thing” already. Stop sinning. Stop being fat and stop drinking to ease your pain and stop whining about how you can’t quit the bottle. Stop crying yourself to sleep at night over your stupid losses and hurts. You think it’s all about you? Stop saying how you’re trapped by something and you can’t get free. Of course you can! You have a pathetic faith and you don’t know enough scripture. Just quote verses at your heartaches and they will be gone. If that doesn’t work, sing some of those cool praise songs at them. If that doesn’t work,  it’s a faith issue. Ye of little faith! Jesus is tired of you and your dirty clothes. Jesus prefers smiling faces when He comes to our church. Jesus doesn’t want to hear how lonely you are and how isolated your failure has made you feel. He doesn’t care that you are alone in a strange town and you don’t know many people.
  • Pray more about your problems. Pray silently too so we can’t hear you as you struggle. Keep it between you and God, comprende?  Because your “negative confession” is really very boring, dude. We’ve all grown tired of your sadness. Other people have problems too pal. Heck I’m down to my last 5 million. Then what?? My car is almost 3 years old and it has almost 40,000 miles on it. It’s practically a Conestoga wagon. Quit your bitchin’ and be thankful. And keep your grief to yourself.
  • Being your friend wouldn't really make me any better as a person…so my time with you is very limited. Actually it’s nonexistent but I’ll keep pretending that “we need to get together, Bro!” because I’m supposed to say that, because everyone here says that.  Also, it keeps you hanging on like a stray puppy, and I like the thought that you think so much of me that you really want to hang with me even though I find you detestable and even though I’ll never really develop a friendship with you. I can’t…you can’t advance my life, my ministry, my record deal, my book sales, or my standing in the community. Also, you don’t play in anyone’s famous band, you have no hit songs, you don’t play for one of the pro sports teams here, you aren’t in government, you don’t host a money show where you call people stupid, and you aren’t on Fox News Channel. If you were…I’d give you a ton of latitude, I’d grieve when you grieve, I’d laugh at your funny stories, I’d tell everyone how great a speaker you are, even if you are actually kind of boring. No…you’re really and truly a nobody and I have no time for nobodies because hey…this is ministry and nobodies can’t help me advance my the kingdom. Come see me when you’ve actually achieved something that puts you in a place of power and can help me somehow. Then we’ll have that coffee you keep talking about.
  • Jesus doesn’t like you. Face it. Nobody said He liked everyone. I don’t like you either…not really. It’s okay. It’s not ungodly to dislike someone. It’s when you fail to hide it…that’s when it becomes sin. You can’t be there for everyone and being there for people is hard work…it takes a lot out of you. So the thing to do is to be there only for those you like. If you don’t like them, then at least be there for the ones who bring something to the table. Sure they drive you nuts with their OCD obsessions about obscure books they’ve been reading and songs they just wrote or their latest ten page tome on how to be an artist. But they are connected.  They know really cool people and that’s one of the perks. Eventually, I’ll develop a relationship with the really cool people losers like you somehow know and then I’ll drop you altogether. But until then, I have to endure your boring stories because you have cool friends.
  • Jesus defined friendship differently than we do. I mean, cmon! He hung out with pathetic street urchins. I hate those people. I mean I love them…because Jesus died for them and all. But I hate being around them. They bore me. They have no cool stories about hanging out with rock stars or politicians or famous preachers. Knowing them can’t advance my place in life in the least bit and time is short. Too short to hang with losers.
  • Jesus wept because of sin. He saw what sin was doing to the world. Never mind that crap about how when He wept, the people stopped their own weeping and were shocked at how much He loved Lazarus. Never mind that THAT was what they felt in his weeping. No…Jesus wasn’t saddened at all about Lazarus’ death. He was weeping for reasons common folk like you can’t grasp. Your hope that maybe Jesus understood how much it hurts being human…that’s your bad theology showing itself again. Jesus was the Ultimate Overcomer, Dude! When will you learn this and have the glorious, blessed life we all have? When that happens...get back to us.

I’m obviously reassessing some things lately. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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