Wednesday, 01 June 2011
Recent comments I’ve read around Xanga reveal that a certain attitude toward Jesus is very much alive and well – the notion that Jesus is very tolerant, accepting, and non-judgmental. This Jesus, they say, doesn’t really mind my immorality, my bad language, or my binge drinking. After all, Jesus forgave sinners; he refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery; he ate with tax-cheats and prostitutes. He basically just said, “Love one another.” Jesus was an open-minded dude.
In contrast to this “Jesus-dude” we have the real Jesus – the Jesus of the Bible, who was tolerant of sinners, but not sin; who was broad-minded about who He ate with, but not about the way of salvation; who was non-judgmental while teaching and healing, but promised a future judgment on all wickedness. The real Jesus was so accepting that anyone could approach Him regardless of station or condition, and He was so demanding that many went away sad, disappointed, or angry.
Jesus was intolerant of sin. He named those things which make a person unclean – evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These things exist in a person’s heart even before they manifest outwardly. Sin is so serious, Jesus said, that if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. This may be hyperbole, but His point is clear – continued deliberate sin will lead to hell. You can’t live an unrepentant life and still enter the kingdom of God (see Eph 5:3-5; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev 21:8).
Jesus is accepting of people no matter who they are. He welcomes all who come to Him, but His welcome is not “Come as you are and stay as you are.” Instead, He says “Come as you are and be changed – transformed – into God’s children.” He described this radical transformation as being “Born again.” It is no mere improvement in our present condition; no mere moral code for us to follow, but a total spiritual rebirth, the receiving of a new Spirit and a new God-honoring outlook on life.
Jesus was narrow-minded about the way of salvation. Most people, He said, are headed for destruction. They are traveling on a broad road – a road that is easier, more popular, and more open-minded. It is a road where you do your thing and I’ll do mine and we’ll both be merry along the way. That is, until we reach our destination.
Eternal Life, on the other hand, is only found by entering through a small gate and traveling a narrow road. This is the one way – the only way – of salvation. “I am the way” Jesus said. “I am the gate.” We enter that gate by believing in Jesus (trust in, cling to, rely on). We trust that Jesus is who He claimed to be – Messiah and Lord. He is our Lord if we deny ourselves and submit to His Word instead; if we have faith in His blood sacrifice. This is the narrow way.
Finally, Jesus is judgmental. Of course His first coming was to save the world, not judge it. But He stated plainly that God had appointed Him as Judge, and that the time for judgment was approaching. While He was here He judged the Pharisees as hypocrites for pretending to be righteous. He judged those who disputed His identity as being “children of the devil.” He judged all the Jews of His time, saying, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” At no time did Jesus imply that it’s okay to just be ourselves and live according to our own natural desires. Instead, He tells us to lose ourselves and find our new identity in Him.
Yes, there are just some things Jesus will not tolerate, and He can sometimes be quite narrow-minded. But His intolerance and judgment are born out of love for you and me. How loving would it be if Jesus didn’t tell us the truth? In fact, anyone interested in Truth will gladly receive His judgments and His intolerance for sin. He calls everyone to repent, believe, and embark along the narrow road which leads to Life.
This post is about the real Jesus – the Jesus of historical record, whose words are found in the Bible along with the teachings of His hand-picked apostles. I’m not describing some made-up Jesus – the one who is carefree and tolerant of all ideas and behaviors. That Jesus is fiction.
Is the Jesus you believe in tolerant or intolerant? Judgmental or carefree? Can Jesus be a little of both?