The Revenge of Jesus? (part two)

Continuing from a recent post “The Passion of the Christ 2: The Revenge of Jesus?”, I want to pull out an excerpt from Peppermint-Filled Pinatas to continue this very important conversation about the Good News of Jesus. I am not advocating for changing the message, but changing how we share this message.

Jesus seemed to approach each person differently based on where he or she was in their spiritual journey. Take the woman caught in the act of adultery:

“Jesus reveals a very different approach than the judgmental one we’ve often embraced. Jesus actually befriended people on the fringe of society. He embraced the people the religious leaders loved to hate. Early in the morning, the religious leaders thought they found a way to trap Jesus. Creeping around while peering into the bedrooms of some of the more notorious women in town, they found their bait. Dragging the adulterous woman in front of Jesus, they demanded that their moral legislation be followed. They knew Jesus would not condone her behavior; therefore, he would have to participate in her stoning, an act which would prove his teachings of loving others were wrong. John writes:

“They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him…. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

‘No one, sir,’ she said.

‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:1-11).

Rather than condemning her, he showed compassion and love while calling her to live a transformed life. Too often, we relate to others in the opposite order. Through our actions, we communicate “we will love you when you change” rather than Jesus’ approach which was “I will love you whether or not you change, and if you want to change, I will show you how.”

Showing 4 comments
  • Chris Marsden

    So how does this shape our use of “broadcast” types of media? If Jesus approached individuals in an individualized way, should we be using billboards at all? (or TV? or Radio?)

    I’m not sure the answer is that we shouldn’t, but perhaps we should be using them as a way to invite to an engaged relationship rather than using them to do our job in “proclaiming the truth”.

    I think this is the difference that social media brings to the table. Social media has a broadcast nature to it, but it invites connection and conversation. You can broadcast your thoughts (and the truth) on your blog, but this little comment thing invites interaction. (Same goes for twitter, facebook, etc…) There is a broadcast nature, but it invites connection.

    BTW… it was great to meet you in Orlando at the Human Event. It is encouraging to hear what Mosaic is up to. God is doing big things.

  • Michael C

    Eric, can you explain to me how a statement of truth is in and of itself judgmental. A doctor telling a patient she has terminal cancer and will die in six months is a statement of truth, but it is not judgmental. Explaining to someone that God must judge their sins unless they come to faith in Christ is a statement of truth and can certainly be explained in love.

    You seem to believe that Jesus did not speak about the woman’s sin, but that’s exactly what He was doing when He says to her accusers ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ What He was making clear to everyone, the accusers and the woman, is that they were all sinners and should be judged for their sin. The conviction of sin is what drove the accusers away and the woman to Jesus. He did not condemn her for her sins because her condemnation was to be paid for on the cross. Jesus knew this. Jesus response of forgiveness was founded in His death, and her seeking of forgiveness in Christ was based upon her conviction of sin that Jesus and her accusers made clear. Therefore, we also should inform people of their condition apart from God so that they can come to understand the good news in Christ, all of which can be done in love.

  • Eric Bryant

    Michael,

    Thanks again for continuing the conversation. In many ways, I think we continue to misunderstand each other.

    First, I completely agree with Chris’ comment that the billboard approach tends to abdicate us from making the effort to have personalized conversations. Your analogy of a doctor works perfectly to illustrate this point. There is a tremendous difference between a doctor putting up a billboard saying “you are dying” and a doctor sharing with you what you need in his office. Same message, but the more personalized approach is way more effective, especially since the patient is there to find out how to get better.

    Christians come across as judgemental when we just use “Jesus is coming to judge you” as our message. You seem to suggest that using billboards or starting the conversation with “You are a sinner” is the only way to reach people.

    Second, you continue to assume that I am trying to remove the issue of our wickedness from the conversation even though I mentioned in my post “I am not advocating for changing the message, but changing how we share this message.” and quoted Jesus as saying “Go now and leave your life of sin.” I agree with everything you said in terms of the need for Christ’s sacrifice, death, and resurrection for all of us. We should absolutely inform people of the means towards connecting with God through Jesus – genuine surrender and repentance, but why not inform them of God’s love and forgiveness and grace too?

  • Garry

    Hey Guys, I have enjoyed reading the previous posts and it appears again that we “the church” are again arguing, conversing, struggling with what we think of how, Jesus would respond in a situation. I agree with michael that if a doctor tells a patient that they have cancer it is a statement of truth, BUT awareness does not change anyone, only coming into a full understanding of the situation, statements of truth will not always do that. Many times I have worked with addicts and alcoholics and told them the truth and explained it to them and they still went on and drank or drugged in spite of knowing the truth.
    I think what eric is saying and having read PFP and listened to several of his podcasts, most people in America and Australia have heard of Jesus, somewhere, so in the context of this “argument” they have seen the “billboard” but they aren’t buying it. The real question for us is why??
    In my youth group the leaders are encouraged to share themselves with the youth and build relationships, then through an understanding that comes through relationship we are able to share our faith with young people. I have said to my leaders, “You are the Jesus that the young people are going see, so we paint a sign with our lives, NOT denying the Truth, but getting close enough for people to be “infected” by our lifestyle.
    Jesus is our Theology, and he wrote it in His lifestyle, copy that!!
    Bless Ya
    Garry

Free Consultation

If you're interested in a free 30-min consultation with me, simply fill out this form and I'll contact you!