I love listening to Derek Webb because his lyrics are so brutally honest and so frequently resonate with me. Different parts of the song I repent jump out at me at different times, catching my attention and send my mind contemplating, but the last two lines (emphasis by me) in particular have sparked an internal debate and study of scripture.

“By domesticating you until you look just like me
I am wrong and of these things I repent”

I mean, “Domesticating Jesus until he looks like me? I don’t do that. Christians don’t do that.” I think to myself. But the reality is even if it’s to a small degree, our culture, background, experiences, and viewpoints as humans affect how we can see Jesus. When I read the Bible, I realize how lowly my view of Jesus is, as the Son of God, and as the moral example of perfection which I am supposed to be conformed to. But I am even more horrified when I look to those outside of my theological camp, or to those outside of Christianity altogether, and see a radically different idea of who Jesus actually was and is. I see differences so immense that no matter ecenumical or “tolerant” I could imagine being cannot overcome the fact that we might as well not be talking about the same person anymore.

 

In fact, there are a lot of accusations that get thrown back and forth from different ideological camps concerning Jesus. I’ve heard liberal-leaning Christians claim Jesus has been hijacked and turned into a white middle-class Republican in favor of regulating morality. At the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve also heard Jesus be described as the equivalent of a limp-wristed environmentalist, pacifist, and economically a socialist. From the last year or so through media, here’s some other more extreme way Jesus has been popularly characterized that I’ve stumbled across…..

 

  • According to Oprah Winfrey, Jesus was a good teacher we can learn from but we should “stop clinging to the old rugged cross”
  • According to James Tabor, author of “Jesus Dynasty”, Jesus of Nazareth was the product of rape and more of a political activist whose message was distorted by the Apostle Paul. 
  • According to most liberal scholars, Jesus was not born of a virgin, did not resurrect on the third day or ascend to the Father, and He certainly did not make any sacrifice to atone for man’s transgressions.
  • According to several writers including Baptist Gregory Boyd and Steve Chalke, Jesus did not die to bear the wrath of his Father in our rightful place because they deny the idea of Penal Substitution atonement.
  • And according to Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, Jesus was quite possibly a homosexual.

 

So how do YOU characterize Jesus? Because it’s clear to me from all these people’s ideas that we aren’t all even speaking of the same person anymore, and certainly not the same Jesus I believe in. Tolerance be damned, I certainly can’t just knod and smile when I hear statements and beliefs that so horrifically contradict what the Bible says.

  • John the Baptist beheld Jesus of Nazareth and proclaimed Him to be “The lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”
  • John the disciple referred to Jesus as “begotten” of the father, just as the Nicene Creed centuries later affirmed Jesus as “Begotten, not made, being of the same substance as the Father”
  • The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 102 in referring to Jesus’ eternalness, as well as declared Jesus to be “propitiation for the sin’s of the people” (2:17) which means Jesus’ sacrifice had to actually satisfy the debt and punishment of sin.
  • Paul repeatedly proclaimed Jesus’ divinity.
  • Daniel in the Old Testament prophesied that He would ascend to the ancient of Days to receive his Kingdom, which would have no end.

So He is King and ruler, He is Lord and eternal, He has dominion and an everlasting Kingdom, He has made payment for sin by becoming sin for us. As if that isn’t enough, Jesus was the word of God made flesh, He lived an earthly life in obedience to the Father and poured himself out in generosity and compassion before finally yielding His life on a Roman cross.

So the bottom line is, if I sacrifice one inch of Jesus’ holiness, sinless ness, divinity, perfection, graciousness, compassion, or generosity then I am turning Him into something other than what the Bible represents Him to be. If I subtract ANYTHING from Him that the Bible claims about Him I am guilty of sinful negligence. If through my cultural context or framework, I impose additional characteristics to Jesus that the Bible does not proclaim or at least allude to, then I am doing an injustice to His character.

Of these things, we should repent.

 

I have more thoughts on this topic, which I’ll continue later

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