There are lots of things I like about how Jesus carried out his ministry 2000 years ago, but one of my favourites is how he kept it real.
He wasn’t trying to be something he wasn’t, and he wasn’t trying not to be something he was.
Take, for instance, how he dealt with the Pharisees. They invited him to dinner on occasion because they had a morbid curiosity about him, but they certainly didn’t like him. Nor did Jesus like them, and he didn’t pretend to. Even as he sat eating their food and drinking their wine, he told them exactly what he thought of them.
He wasn’t interested in making friends; he was only interested in preaching the Word. But if he made friends by preaching the Word – well, that was whipped cream with a cherry on top.
The more likely scenario is that, by preaching the Word, you’ll not only not make friends, you’ll lose the few you thought you had.
And that’s the way it goes.
Jesus warned us we’d be hated without cause, just as he was hated without cause.
Why would someone be hated for speaking the truth?
Because the world hates whoever shines a spotlight on its sin and lies. People would rather be soothed and coddled than slapped sober.
Jesus was in the business of slapping people sober, and so are we.
If you can’t handle being hated, you’d better buck up and learn how, because that’s what’s coming down the pipeline for us. Jesus told us not to be offended by anyone because he knew that offences were going to come our way, just as they came his way.
This is the opposite of the world’s way. I’m a big fan of social decorum, but only if its purpose is to uphold the God-given moral order. Nowadays we’re expected to address a man as a woman simply because he feels like a woman at that particular moment. And if we choose not to go along with the insanity, we can be arrested for a hate crime.
Well, I’m not playing that asinine game. I feel sorry for people who think they’re something other than the sex they were born, but I’m not going to humour their sad confusion. You don’t help someone who’s sick by pretending they’re not sick; you only make it worse for them. Better to say outright: YOU NEED HELP AND HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GET IT. That’s being honest.
That’s preaching the Word.
I’m not afraid to go to jail for preaching the Word. A society that forbids preaching the Word on pain of arrest is not a society whose laws are worth abiding by. However, given the choice, I’d rather not go to jail, if there’s a way around it.
There is. Jesus didn’t want to go to jail, either. When things got too hot for him he simply skipped town. He traveled light and advised that we do the same. He didn’t stay where the Word wasn’t welcome, and nor should we. Considering that the Word isn’t welcome most places in the world today, we’re going to be moving around a lot, just like Jesus. Hit them with the Word, and then run.
Jesus kept it real because he was all about preaching the Word, and the Word is as real as it gets. He had no time for game-playing or sugar-coating, even with his disciples. When they wanted sugar-coating, he gave them fresh-squeezed lemon juice straight up, and then he slapped them sober.
Just before I was born again, God slapped me sober by showing me the state of my soul. He didn’t sugar-coat it; he didn’t pat me on the head, give me prescription drugs, and tell me it was someone else’s fault; he didn’t spoon-feed it to me in baby-sized bites – he gave me the full spiritual monty all at once, and the pain I experienced was so overpowering and so overwhelming, all I wanted was for it to stop. That’s when God presented me with the option of choosing to forgive or not to forgive, making it very clear that choosing to forgive would make the pain stop. God slapped me sober, and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
Better to slap someone sober now than to leave them to be collectively slapped in the mother of all slappings when Jesus comes back. Jesus describes how all the people will “mourn” at his second coming when they realize they’ve been had and are now on their way to Hell. That will be a spiritual slapping to end all spiritual slappings.
There are lots of things I like about Jesus’ ministry, but one of my favourites is how he kept it real. We need to keep it real, too. We can start by throwing out the “Christianese” that’s been popularized by televangelists. We can start by speaking plainly to people about God and Jesus, not relying on stock phrases that feel weird in our mouths and sound even weirder to the hearer. We can start by being honest with people (even if it offends them) and by being brutally, painfully honest with ourselves.
Being a Christian is not a popularity contest.
We need to stop being afraid of being afraid. We need to buck up. We need to stand our spiritual ground (not our physical ground). We need to call a spade a spade and a man who thinks he’s a woman a man. We need to stare hate straight in the face and not be offended. We need to stop going along to get along. We need to stop wasting our time because we never really know how much time we’ve got.
When you’re a born-again believer,
So get out there and preach the Word.
But keep it real.