Pastor's Corner: Seeing Jesus clearly
People talk about loving Jesus but not liking the Church. Today there are many 'Christians' who even feel this way. The idea of a God of love is really satisfying. But dealing with imperfect and sometimes selfish people who are learning to change to be more like Jesus isn't very satisfying. I think part of the problem comes from our understanding of Jesus. We see the Jesus of the Gospels who heals, comforts, 'shepherds' and came to seek and save the lost. That absolutely is Jesus. He is loving, merciful, faithful and kind! But that's not a complete picture of him.
"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." - Revelation 19.11, 13, 15-16 ESV
This is also Jesus. This is the Jesus who brings justice and judgment -- loving, accurate, impartial, yet full of grace and mercy for those who have surrendered to him as their ruler. The biggest issue I see of only seeing the 'Nice Jesus' is that we can take or leave him in different and difficult circumstances and situations in our daily life. I may choose to say an unkind and ungodly thing to someone today and not think too much about it because Jesus is nice. He will forgive me. But the attitude that comes out of us is that being holy isn't important to Jesus, that he really doesn't care if we act like he does or not. We actually start putting Jesus on a lower level than he deserves, saying that He is important but not important enough to struggle against any temptation or trial that comes our way in order to live holy. Jesus puts it this way...
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10.34-39 ESV
Who is more important to you than Jesus? Family? Yourself and your own desires? Your employer? Your image in front of friends or strangers? Who do you love more than you love Jesus? It isn't easy to let people know that they take a second place to Jesus. Nor is it 'peaceful' when we do sometimes. But what is your goal in life? Do you want to save your life or lose it?
There is a fine balance in seeing Jesus clearly. He is both kind, compassionate and loving, while also bringing some hard standards for those under his rule. Make sure you are seeing him fully. Make sure you are loving him completely with all your heart more than anything or anyone else! He deserves it. He is worthy (Revelation 5.9-10)! And your life will know great blessing with Him!