Friday, June 3, 2022


This is why the world thinks we're hypocrites. 

This is the final point that we need to talk about this week, although I'm sure there are many others I could have made, about the crisis it brings upon the church when we lend Jesus to our culture. When something is happening in the world and we step up with a Jesus who sounds just like the world's talking points, then we try to take Him back and proclaim the true Gospel of Christ, the world just throws up its hands and says...wait a minute. That's not Jesus.

That's not what you told us about your God. That's not what you told us about where His heart is. That's not what you told us His teaching is. 

It feels like a bait-and-switch - because it is - and it turns the world off to Jesus, right at the time when you were pretty sure you had them at least interested. 

This is really the gravest sin that the church as a whole commits. When we dangle Jesus out there as bait to a ravenous world that is ready to devour anything that will stand with it, and then we try to reel them in and draw them into a more comprehensive Gospel where, quite often, they see just how much we have twisted Jesus to fit their narrative just to try to draw them into our church, what we have really done is that we have lied to the world about Jesus. 

We have lied to them about Him in the hopes that they might love Him and at just the moment that we think they're ready to dive in and take the plunge and really commit, we reveal the lie (by proclaiming the truth), and the world's response is not, "Wow! This Jesus is even more incredible than I thought He would be!"

No, the world's response is, "Wow. You Christians will do just about anything to try to get me to buy into your dogma."

It's repulsive. 

And it may be the case that what we tell culture about Jesus when we loan Him to them is true. Or true-ish. Or true enough that we can make a legitimate case that it might be where Jesus would come down on an issue without a whole lot of theological gymnastics. But even in that case, what we're doing is giving the world a one-dimensional Jesus that we hope they're falling in love with and then, when we try to take Him back, when we try to proclaim the full Gospel, the world just can't tolerate it. 

Because here's the thing about Jesus: He's messy. He curses the Pharisees, but He keeps going back to the Temple. He heals the woman's child, but He calls her a dog first. He sets free the chained man, then hops on a boat and heads out of town. In the fullness of who He is, there's a lot of tension that we have to deal with. There is no one-dimensional Jesus.

So when we use a one-dimensional Jesus to try to draw our culture in and then try to take Him back and reveal how complex He really is, a world that can't handle that kind of tension just screams about our hypocrisy - about how this Jesus who is one thing can't possibly be the other, too, and how we just keep moving the line and changing the narrative and spinning the tale. It is intolerable to them, and it turns them away. 

Just one more reason why we have to be careful about our willingness to lend Jesus to our culture. It may seem like a good investment, but it just keeps coming back empty - or worse, piled high with penalties that the church simply isn't prepared to pay. 

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