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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Jesus Ain't Your Homeboy: Debunking the "Buddy Jesus" Myth

I've been a real slacker about blogging over the past couple of months (hey, what can I say- I'm on summer vacation). But I have been doing a lot of reading, so I have many things churning through my head that I'm sure will manifest themselves into the blogosphere sometime in the near future. This should make the 10's of my blog fans very happy...

One of the books that I recently finished was Jesus Mean and Wild by Mark Galli. I loved this book!! This is something that all Christians can benefit from reading. Galli takes readers back to the scripture (particularly the Gospel of Mark) to show that the Jesus of the Bible differs greatly from many of the images of him that are held so dear in the 21st Century Evangelical Church.

Seeing as how I'm still on vacation, a formal "book review" would be inappropriate. I'll just let Mr. Galli speak for himself. This is a snippet of the wealth of knowledge that comes from the pages:

There comes a time in the life of faith when Jesus must die. For many people, the Christ who dies is an analgam of their fantasies and our culture's fancies. In our time, that often means this Jesus: The nicest person we could ever imagine. He is a kindergarten teacher of a humanity that is as vulnerable as a group of five-year-olds. So, of course, he does not raise his voice. He affirms and re-affirms our fragile self-esteem. We may paint an awful picture with the sinfulness of our lives, but we needn't worry. Remember? Jesus refused to lift a rock of judgement against the woman caught in adultery. So, like the nonjudgemental teacher, he simply asks, "So, tell me about this painting, this life of yours," and without pressure lets us figure out on our own how we might improve.

This Jesus puzzles us, of course. He seems so nice; we can't imagine why he doesn't answer all our prayers or why he allows evil to run free. Consequently, we have our doubts like everyone else in this age, wondering how a congenial Lord can be, well, so inattentive. Maybe he's really not in charge after all. Then suddenly our faith is bolstered by an inspirational best seller about the best life or the purpose-driven life or the border-expanding life, and we're ready to be patient with Jesus a little longer--as long as he keeps feeling good about ourselves and optimistic about tomorrow.

Hyperbole to be sure, but not all that unlike my imagination some days. This Jesus may be a comfort, but in the end he is a bore. He is the product of our culture's paltry imagination. He is a Jesus without substance, a mere shadow of the Jesus who roamed the hills of Gallilee...

The first step in finding the real Jesus is to recognize that he is not here, he is not in one's life as he should be. He is gone. It is to realize that we have been following a fake Jesus, a charlatan, an imposter. And that imposter is as good as dead. The real Jesus is long gone and waiting for us in Gallilee.

Death to the imposter; may we all come to know the real Jesus. I'd also like to send out a big thank you to my boys, Dustin and Mike-- for the good wine, tobacco and conversation that inspired me to get off my duff and actually post this. Here's to many more of our infamous "Balcony Sessions" to come. Cheers.

"Come what may..."

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. -Mark 8:34-35 (ESV)

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. -Mark 13:24-26 (ESV)

"And up to the very moment in which I was to become another man, the nearer the moment approached, the greater the horror did it strike in me." - St. Augustine of Hippo

"I want to know this Jesus, though he scares me a little." - John Ortberg (about the book, JM&W)

Soli Deo Gloria,


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