Each week that I am preaching, my sermon goes out to a group of folks via email. I refer to these folks as my "Faithful Readers." Some of them are. Each sermon is preceded by a note that is not in the sermon body, though I often end up incorporating parts of the note in the sermon. Today's seemed appropriate for this spot. You find it below.
Which Jesus? Who is the Jesus in whom you put your trust? Is it the Jesus presented in the gospels? Is it the Jesus anticipated by those who read and interpreted the Hebrew portion of Bible to point toward a military/political king? Is it the Jesus of your own imagination and creation?
Personally, I’ve lived too long and watched too many politicians and military leaders use God language to trust my fate to one of them. I’ve read my Bible—the whole thing. It seems to me that even God grew weary of the political/military king idea. It didn’t work out so well for his chosen people.
I like Jesus, but which Jesus do I like? Well, some will say, there is only one. Yes . . . maybe . . . NO. Even the gospels present Jesus in slightly different lights, but I am not referring to that when I ask “which Jesus.”
I like Jesus, and I like him best of all as I’ve created him in my own mind. Jesus is kind, loving, and forgiving. He comes alongside me to keep me out of trouble and to help me come out on top any time I am challenged. He comforts me in my sorrow and heals my hurts.
I like Jesus. I like to spend time with him. In fact, I would like to schedule some alone time with Jesus (an hour or two) on a monthly basis. I would like to do so more often, but sometimes after spending even that hour or two with him, I actually feel worse than before. I like Jesus. I believe he likes me, but you can’t imagine some of the things he says to me in those quiet times. He dares to ask me about . . . . I don’t know why he thinks that has anything to do with my spiritual life—that is what is his concern, is it not? Why does he insist on messing with my personal life?
I’ve been to a mountain with Jesus. It is grand. On the mountain, I seem to get a glimpse of who Jesus is; and, in that moment, I can even see who I might be were my whole life in union with his. If only I could withdraw from the world and stay there on the mountain in perfect harmony with Jesus. It is what I want, and surely, such union is what he wants for me, for all of us.
Alas, to stay on the mountain is to be alone. Jesus will not stay there. He will retreat there, but he will not stay. A faith that is only good enough for the mountain is not a mature faith or it is misplaced—maybe in the mountain rather than in the Jesus who retreated there.
The Jesus one meets on the mountain is the Jesus who comes down to mingle with the masses—to hear their cries, to feel their pain, to touch their brokenness and to be touched by it. He is the Jesus of the Gospels—the one that dares to follow the Father’s will though it cost him his life, the one who bids those who would follow to surrender the whole of their living to him, the one who bids us die that we might live.
I like Jesus. I’m just not sure the Jesus of the Gospels is the one I like.