DISCLAIMER: this is not about Dan Kimball (who believes and preaches things the world does not want to hear) nor his book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. I haven't read it, and I make it a policy not to comment on things of which I know nothing. So it would be foolish to infer anything from this to that. This is about the phenomenon I've noticed since before I was saved, going back to the 60's and 70's, that virtually everyone — including unbelievers — wants to claim Jesus.
Jesus' brothers, who "were not believing in Him" (John 7:5), were trying to tell Him what to do. They had a program, an agenda, built on their own (unbelieving) bases, which they wanted to impose on Him. They knew what He "should" do, and told Him so (John 7:3-4).
Jesus' response is pretty frontal:
"My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come" (John 7:6-8)Pluck out His words from the middle: "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil" (v. 7). I notice two things: the world "cannot" hate Jesus' unbelieving brothers, but it does hate Jesus, because of what He says about it.
Let's turn that on its head, by asking two questions:
First, why does the world love Jesus' unbelieving brothers? Jesus says it hates Him because He bears witness of the evil nature of its works. From that, I infer that it loves His brothers because they do not. That is, His unbelieving brothers do not challenge the world's autonomous, God-hating, rebellious foundation. To the contrary, they affirm it by themselves resting on that same sandy base. They put their judgment over Jesus' judgment and, thus, over God's. The world sees in His brothers kindred spirits. "They're one of us — not like Him!"
Second, why does the world hate Jesus? Note, Jesus does use the strong word, "Hate." The world itself might not use that word. They might call Jesus "Good Teacher" (Mark 10:17), or flatter Him for His uncompromising stands (Matthew 22:16). But Jesus — perhaps doing the very thing for which the world hates Him — lays open their heart. Underneath all the unctuous language, the poses and the self-delusion, He finds not love nor admiration, but hatred.
And why? Because He rejects and exposes its view of itself. The world sees itself as better than God: smarter, wiser, morally and intellectually His superior. Jesus does not. The world sees itself as engaged in a fine and noble endeavor, headed towards a glorious future. Jesus sees it as a flowing sewer headed for irremediable disaster, treacherous and without excuse. The world sees itself as a great place to be, spiritually and in every other way. Jesus sees the only good thing about the world as being rescued from it (John 15:18-19) and kept from its influences while still physically (not spiritually) in it (John 17:14-16).
Jesus makes the world feel really bad about itself qua world, and He makes it look bad. And it hates Him for it.
So why does virtually every worldling speak so highly of Jesus? Jesus says they hate Him; the world says it loves Him.
Simple. They're lying. (Hel-lo? They're the world! Their whole foundation is a lie: "You shall be as God"! Buy into that lie, and everything else is easy.)
Now, worldlings don't think they're lying, and here's how they work that out. You could make it a recipe:
In that recipe, the quotation-marks are essential. As with "God," the world simply uses "Jesus" as a verbal unit. They take the Humpty-Dumpty approach to etymology:
- Take one "Jesus"
- Subtract (or ignore) all the nasty bits that you hate
- Inject all the lovely notions you admire
- Shake periodically
- Serve with a sauce of deep (albeit groundless) assurance
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less"So when the world says "Jesus" in admiring tones, perhaps with a fond tear in its eye, it means "Someone who makes me feel great about being me, just as I am, and empowers me to achieve my own goals."
It means "Jesus." Not the real, un-tame, dangerous, edgy Jesus of the whole Bible.
Before the Lord saved me, I was the same way. I was a cultist, and I liked "Jesus." I just knew that Christians had Him all wrong. He believed that God was in everyone without exception, and that I should have everything I wanted — just like I did! And so does just about every cult, ism, sect, and anti-Christian philosophy. Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Moslems, New Agers — they all like "Jesus." It's nice to have "Jesus" on your bandwagon, rooting for you and cheering for you. "Jesus" — who is (or is not) Lucifer's spirit-brother, the archangel Michael, a prophet of Allah, functional second-fiddle to other personages and rituals and institutions, an ascended mystic master.... "Jesus." They like that guy a lot.
I recently had to make an extraordinarily difficult decision, and take a very painful stand, simply and solely because of what I believe the Bible to teach. An unbeliever took me to task for it, admonishing me that it wasn't acting like her image of Jesus, who was nice and affirming and accepting of everyone and everything.
Well, of course it wasn't. Her "Jesus" is made-up.
In fact (and here, at last, is my point) it should have really worried me if my decision did meet with her full approval, in this instance. What I did is not what she would have done. It did not blend well with her view of the universe. Therefore, it was not something that the Jesus she made up in her own image would have done.
She liked "Jesus," but not me.
Which is what I should have expected, though foolishly I did not. In fact, if it had happened as I anticipated, I should have been really worried about myself.
Because, insofar as I am true to my profession to be a Jesus-believer, a student (and subject) of Jesus', I will not be in-step with the world at a number of specific points. Indeed I will be totally out-of-step with it at its very foundation. I should not only consider it possible that it will dislike me and find my core beliefs absurd, I should expect it (John 15:18-19; 1 John 3:13). The world's way of looking at itself and God and things should be totally different than my way, if I am true to Jesus, whom (if He is to believed) it hates.
So there it is.
- The world likes "Jesus"
- The world hates Jesus
When we as Christians lose sight of this, we serve neither it nor Him.
With this, on behalf of my friends and brothers here at PyroManiacs, I wish you all a very Merry Nativity. God grant that we have opportunities to speak (and preach) of Him on this occasion, and grab those opportunities in His name. Soon, Lord willing, I will begin preparations for my annual Christmas-eve pizza, and we Phillipses will worship Him at our church's Christmas Eve service, and read and speak of our Lord's incarnation on Christmas Day.
Don't be dissuaded from worship and witness by arguments that Christmas is just another pagan holiday; it is not. You can celebrate a Calvinistic Christmas with a clear conscience.