The Church Social and the Nice Jesus
Ask any teenager that goes to church and is involved in a "youth group". Ask them what kind of man they believe Jesus Christ was. They are likely to conjure up a few words like kind, forgiving, loving, caring, or nice. The idea is that Jesus was supposedly a nice man who did nothing to upset people. The popular perception in the churches is that He preached tolerance and acceptance. And that life is all about being nice to one another and being happy.
But little do they know. He wasn't always nice. He wasn't always kind. Yes. He cared. And He loved. But those things don't always arrive in pretty packages. Better words to describe Jesus would be Strong, Manly, Stern, Bold, and Compassionate. These are more aligned with how the Scriptures portray Him to be. Not Mr Nice guy.
He caused trouble. He denounced. He condemned. He disrupted the established order. He even used violence on at least one occasion. In John 2:15, Jesus saw the money changers in the temple. He fashioned a whip and physically drove them out. He turned over tables and even shouted. He caused a major scene that would land anyone in jail today. He would have gotten charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Vandalism. Disturbing the peace. And INTOLERANCE. That's not Mr Nice guy.
Now ask yourself. How do you think your fellow "nice" Christians would react if they witnessed such a spectacle? They would accuse Jesus of not following Himself. (sarcasm intended)
Not once in the Scriptures did Jesus ever compromise or seek the middle ground on any issue. He was unafraid of confrontation. He was all about the absolute TRUTH. He didn't agree to disagree. He ridiculed the Scribes and Pharisees, calling them snakes and vipers. He labeled them murderers and blind guides. (Matthew 23:33). He undermined their authority. He insulted them. He was NOT nice.
Jesus condemned. He rebuked. He told others that it would be better to drown in the sea with a stone around your neck than to harm a child. That's the language of GOD. But you and I both know that society today would condemn that kind of talk on a podium.
When He upset people, He did it deliberately. He provoked. He stirred up controversy. He broke away from established customs. He divided. He showed anger. He could instead have been like a political leader and played Mr Nice guy and acted diplomatically. But He did not. Because tolerance is inaction. It is the same as doing nothing at all. Any coward can be tolerant. But INTOLERANCE is ACTION. Jesus was intolerant of evil.
As "not nice" as Jesus was at times, it was always out of love. Love does not always mean nice. When a parent spanks a child, that is out of love. But it isn't nice. Churches have turned Jesus into a guidance counselor. Mankind's best friend. Christianity in its truest sense has nothing to do with niceness. Anyone in this world can be nice. Even a murderer. Right before he cuts your throat. Anger has far more value than niceness ever had. Cowards always resort to being nice. But someone who's willing to take a risk and do what is right, they will show anger. And that is what Jesus did.
But understand this. When Jesus showed anger, He did so because of something that offended GOD. Not because something offended Him. When we think of "turn the other cheek", that means we let certain things roll off our backs if it offends us personally. But we should ALWAYS stand up for what is right on behalf of GOD. When it comes to GOD and all His TRUTH, we don't play nice. There are times when we need to use strong language, cause a scene, or to hurt people's feelings instead of letting lies spread and evil grow.
Christianity is not about going to the meeting place, giving hugs, exchanging gifts and compliments, listening to music, and praising one another. And then going back to your hole in the wall. If that stuff is the Truth, then apparently we were given the wrong Scriptures. Because those things don't resemble Jesus telling His disciples to sell their cloaks and go buy a sword. (Luke 22)