Saturday, 1 March 2014

Mad, Bad or Dangerous to Know?

CS Lewis said it best. Jesus was one of three things: insane, the devil himself or exactly what He claimed to be - God in the flesh.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the possibilities.

It's a simple concept. Which was He?

Lewis spent some time debating the question with himself before he came to his conclusion.

So what is Jesus to you?

It's straighforward to a Christian - or it should be.

There's a growing "inclusive" movement - in addition to the so-called "Progressives" I've mentioned before, there's a growing "liberal" move that sees  Jesus as "a" way to God, not "The" way to God. It's alarming. Jesus is presented by many people claiming "Christian" as their belief that He was nothing more than a moral teacher. Guidelines to holiness, not a single path.

A "moral" teacher? Seriously?

Jesus was constantly in trouble with the authorities. He didn't toe the line the society of His day put as "acceptable". He stood His ground - and they killed Him for it. He lambasted the leaders who were trying to trip Him up. His "Woe to you" messages about the cities were aimed at both the people and the leaders of the religious wing. They hit out at Him with everything they had. They struck Him with anger, hate and envy. He responded by clearing out the Temple, taking time to braid a whip and turn over tables, but pausing to gently free the doves. He caused constant upset.

He was concerned with social injustice. He did speak out for the poor and oppressed.

But He didn't accept their hypocrisy. He didn't capitulate to their insistence on the letter of the Law any more than we should accept the situational ethics of today's society.

So what IS Jesus to you?

He can't simply be a "good man" with a "moral" message. So what is He to you?

Is He a madman? No sane person could seriously claim what He claimed. But would an insane person have been so influential? Would the leaders of the day have been so intimidated by Him?

A former goalkeeper, David Icke, went off the rails while I was in my late teens. He went around wearing a turquoise tracksuit and declaring he was the incarnation of god. Nobody was threatened by him, and not many took him seriously. He had been a celebrity before, which is probably the only reason anyone ever heard about him.

Was Jesus like that? Was He a madman?

Clearly not. He was a threat to the institutes of the time because He backed up His words with actions. He cemented  His words with action. His speeches were not self-serving and did not make Him central other than as the hub of the wheel. He had no airs and graces that needed Him to be the centre of attention. He sent out the disciples to do the work He began even before His resurrection.

Charlatans and madmen generally seek the attention for themselves. They desire the acclamation of the masses.

So what was He?

Was He the devil incarnate? Did He work miracles and speak out under a demonic influence? Did He undermine the devil's kingdom with the devil's power?

Of course not.

He said Himself no divided kingdom would stand. Satan's power would no more be used by Satan to drive himself out than anything else. His teachings were divisve and stunning. He undermined the power of the Spirit of Death that had the people in it's grip. He released people from bondage that was clearly dragging them away from God. He pointed to God with everything He did. That doesn't track with the devil incarnate.

So what was he?

If He was who He said He was, then He is a truly Dangerous person to know. He was a danger to the establishment. He was a danger to anyone who was wilfully trying to separate His family from His Father. He was radically honest, openly forgiving and welcoming to all. He never once turned someone who came to Him away to "learn more" or "it's not the right time". Nobody was rejected because of their past. Nobody rejected because of their gender, colour or any other reason except their rejection of Him.

That danger is one that we need to embrace. It's something we long for - a dangerous companion who will fight for us, guide us and, yes, lovingly correct us. He will challenge us to pursue Holiness. He will invite us to become dangerous as He is dangerous.

But it's a choice we need to make. Accept Him for who He said He was, or disregard Him as insane or demonic.

But we can't just accept Him as a "moral" leader.

Mad, Bad or Dangerous.

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