The above quote is often used to reprimand “un-Christlike” Christians. Ghandi had first hand experience with this. For example, he was once turned away from a church service because he was not white.
Certainly, we Christians have often failed to live up to the ideals of our Savior. I make no excuses for that either in my own life or in the lives of others. Nonetheless, in order to face up to these failings we must ask some multifaceted questions. In other words , in order to determine what is “un-Christlike” we must ask ourselves “What is Christ really like?”
Even many hardened unbelievers still profess to “believe in the teachings of Jesus.” My question to them is “Are you sure about that?”
Jesus taught love, kindness and forgiveness. He taught us to pursue peace, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger. All of those things are absolutely true. However, Jesus was not crucified for simply being a nice guy.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
Matthew 10:34-36 ESV
Jesus’ life was so revolutionary that practically all world religions, including those which existed centuries before His earthly life, have attempted to adopt Him as one of their own. Nonetheless, it is not possible to homogenize all of the world’s religions without encountering the countless areas in which they contradict one another. They simply cannot all be true.
Similarly, politicians of all persuasions have tried to enlist Jesus as a spokesman. Regardless, that also fails as Jesus’ teachings cannot be pigeonholed into left/right subcategories. For more on this, see my previous series Jesus: Conservative or Liberal?
So where does that leave us? Where do we ultimately learn about Jesus? Primarily, that would be through the Holy Scriptures, which Jesus said “testify of Him” ( John 5:39-44). Understanding Jesus’ life and teaching in that context helps us to get a much clearer picture.
Many attempt to draw a distinction between the “harsh” God of the Old Testament and the “nice” God that Jesus taught about. Regardless, Jesus Himself made no such distinction. The God Jesus proclaimed is the same God who judged the world with a flood (Matthew 24:38-39) and who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:29). In other words, Jesus did not see a conflict between God’s love and His righteous judgement, which He would later taste on our behalf on the cross.
The problem is that we want to take our sentimental, “warm and fuzzy” definition of love and superimpose it onto a holy God and it often does not fit. As this popular meme reminds us:
Among the other things Jesus taught that might be considered “politically incorrect” would include:
- That He is God (Mark 2:1-12, John 10:11-18 cf. Ezekiel 34:1-16, John 8:56-58) and He allowed Himself to be worshipped (John 20:28).
- The Scriptures are the Word of God and cannot be broken (John 10:35) and that they must be fulfilled (Matthew 26:56; Luke 4:21; Luke 22:37).
- We are to beware of false teachers and false teaching (Matthew 7:15; 16:6-11; Revelation 2:6, 15).
- Marriage is between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4-6).
- There is a literal, eternal Hell (Matthew 8:12; 18:8; 22:13; 25:30, 41; Mark 2:1-12; 3:29; Luke 16:28).
- Trusting in Him is the only way to avoid going there (John 8:24; 14:6).
If you claim to believe in Jesus’ teachings, what do you do with these statements? How consistent are you prepared to be? The same Jesus who taught us to feed the hungry and turn the other cheek also calls us to open the Scriptures and proclaim that He is the only way. Yes, His teachings will often go against popular opinion, but to do otherwise would be un-Christlike.
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