by dan grider
When people say they want to become more like Jesus, they usually mean they want to become a moral person.
Remember the WWJD bracelets? The mental default always took us down a moral road. In most cases our consciouses were pricked to consider a more moral set of behaviors. We seldom every were moved to pray for people who were facing an eternity far from Christ.
People say they want to be more like Jesus, but are many following the wrong Jesus. He was about advancing a new Kingdom of disciples who thought and operated differently.
Our morality default is often defined by religious values shaped by a modern Christian subculture—not all of which is bad. My suspicion, though, is that if we look closely at Jesus without our modern moralistic filter, fewer people would want to (WWJD) do what Jesus did. Even fewer would want to become more like Jesus.
Jesus was an unmarried peasant who didn’t put his “family first.” Most of his friends were criminals or living sinful lifestyles. Jesus had hardly any friends who would be considered “religious.” He spent most of his time with drunks, gluttons, fornicators, and thieves. He was so close to “sinners” that the religious leaders thought he was one. And nearly everything Jesus said and did made religious people mad.
The WWJD bracelet tended to prompt thoughts toward a cultural Christian Jesus. We must re-discover who Jesus is, and begin to follow that Jesus.
Jesus was executed by the state for treason, and his followers, who took his words seriously, were seen as a threat—not a friend—to the political powers of the time. They made conservatives and liberal uncomfortable. They were living for a Kingdom that was beyond conservatives and liberal labels.
The similarities between Roman values and American values are striking. Yet so is the American church’s unchecked adoption of such Roman (and American) values. Our addiction to comfort and security and material possessions that we stuff into our bulging barns mirrors the pax Romana but is a far cry from the peace of Christ which includes disciple making, a Kingdom focus, simplicity, suffering, and death.