What does a curated Jesus look like?
(Editors Note: This is the second part of a Finding Faith column written by Rev. Donald Grant of Hillview Wesleyan Church, Flemington.)
A curated version of Jesus will inevitably add or take away from who Scripture says He is. Just a few examples are as follows:
The Tolerant Jesus
“We shouldn’t take sin so serious,” some say. “The Lord doesn’t want us to live with a sin-consciousness. How dangerous and deadly this is!
To serve a Jesus who is tolerant of our sin, because of an erroneous belief that we no longer need to seek forgiveness for our sins? This is not the Jesus of the Bible; a Jesus who winks at sin, and robs Him of His most intrinsic value, which is His holiness. This is a Jesus that pleases those who are undiscerning, because they have somehow glossed over truth:
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
This unfortunate curation also takes for granted the grace of God. Paul also warns us of this error: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2).
We must never take grace for granted, believing that it somehow gives us license to sin. The bottom line on this is simply that Jesus will not and does not tolerate sin. Yet He is merciful, and compassionate, and will work with us in any struggle, as we continue to place our faith in Him, because He longs to forgive: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The Passive Jesus
I was surprised years ago to find out that not everyone believed in a literal rapture of the Church. We understand that the word “rapture” is not found in our English versions of the Bible, but when we read Scripture, we are left with an undeniable truth that He is coming back for His Church: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
We read these words and are comforted as Scripture says, but some have created and carefully fashioned a Jesus who is not coming back again until we say He can. This is a weak Jesus and a passive Jesus, waiting on man to bring the world around to readiness before He can act.
One of Dominion Theology’s principle mandates states that we are to prepare the world for Christ to come and set up His kingdom on earth. My purpose in this writing is not concerned with laying out the specifics; however, it should be made clear that we are to simply preach the Gospel under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, trusting Him to do what only He can do – understanding the Gospel is the catalyst.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).
It does not actually matter when you believe He will come really, but it is imperative that we understand that He is not waiting for us – rather we await His return: “While we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
The Happy Joy Jesus
I do not use this particular phraseology to demean the name of the Lord in any way, but I am describing the reality of those who only see a Jesus who is upbeat, and like the tolerant version of the Lord, does not judge sin. Some prefer an easy-going Jesus, who promotes love and happiness almost exclusively: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Those having “itching ears” are satisfied with “candy” sermons which don’t challenge, but simply make us feel good; about ourselves and about life. Our goal in the Christian life is to grow spiritually as we come to know Him more. The mindset featuring this curated Jesus is counter-productive to growth, and will not result in us living the type of life that pleases the Lord.
By no means is this small list meant to be exhaustive. There will be many who will pick and choose what they want to believe concerning the Lord, and this is unfortunate, but here is something to remember as it concerns the child of God: Not only should the full counsel of God’s Word be preached, but the same full counsel should also be received. By examining ourselves and examining our doctrine, we can avoid becoming involved with a curated Christ, or even creating one of our own.
Ponder this prayerfully.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Don Grant of Hillview Wesleyan Church, Flemington.