February 2, 2014

Misrepresented Jesus.

jesus wikimedia commons

I have a confession to make: I am a Christian.

I am a Jesus-loving, organic-eating, downward-dogging, wine-drinking, dark-roast-coffee-sipping, spirit-filled, bible-believing Christian.

I was talking on the phone with a friend who I had recently added on Facebook. She had looked at my bio and something about my Facebook account struck her as odd. She said, “I was surprised to see that you are a Christian.” I nervously smiled on the other end of the line and asked her why. She said, “I don’t normally like Christians, but I like you.”

We talked a little more in depth about the issue and she let me know that most of the Christians she had met in her life had made her feel badly about herself, they had made her feel judged, and ‘not good enough.’

I thought about what she said and I couldn’t help but feel like Jesus has been so poorly represented by many of his followers. I am not saying that I am the perfect ‘Jesus Follower’—I am not—but if we (those who follow the teachings of Jesus) represented him authentically, the word ‘Christian or Christ-followers’ would be more likely to illicit a positive response than a negative one.

I think Jesus is someone I’d like to hang out with. Here’s why:

1. He knew how to be the life of the party.

One of his first miracles was turning water into wine. I don’t know about you, but I always have a special fondness for whoever brings wine to the dinner.

2. He had compassion towards those who were hurting.

There are many accounts in the teachings of Jesus about how he healed the sick. He cared (cares) about those who are hurting and he wanted (wants) to see them healed and thriving. Mark 5:24 mentions how he healed a lady who had been bleeding for 12 years. These were long before the days where she could just run into the closest outpatient hospital and get a hysterectomy. Jesus cared that she was hurting and he helped her.

3. He encourages us to show mercy to each other.

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Authentic followers of Jesus should strive to be merciful to others on a regular basis. I was at Target the other day and the cashier was not very friendly at all. I don’t think she even greeted me and she certainly did not exchange the usual cashier-customer pleasantries. I found myself feeling offended, but then I decided to stop that thought pattern in it’s tracks. I thought maybe she was not having a good day, maybe something tough was going on in her life. So instead of expecting a smile, I gave her a big smile that hopefully brightened her day just a little.

4. He wants us to have pure hearts so we can see the Divine.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). I am not a bible scholar, but I take this to mean, he wants us to care about the things that matter in life. To me this means caring about others, being a good listener when your friend needs it, and focusing on what really matters in life.

5. He wants us to be peacemakers.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). We could all use more peace in this life. Jesus encourages his followers to strive to have peace with others.

6. He teaches us to “look after widows and orphans” (James 1:27).

I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing Jesus followers in my life, but one that stands out the most is a dear friend who just moved to Kolkata, India to help the street children that live at the Howrah Train Station. I have been to Kolkata and I have been to that train station. It is not an easy place to visit, led alone live. But she feels that Jesus has called her there to help those orphans who need help. This is the true representation of Jesus.

Jesus is not a judgemental jerk. His whole mission while he was on this earth was to help people fulfil their life’s calling.

In the book of John he says, “I have come that they might have and enjoy life and have it in abundance until it overflows” (John 10:10). Even if he did not agree with someone, his words were seasoned with such love and grace, that both parties left feeling respected and loved.

Peter illustrates this when he says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that any Christians who do not exude love and respect for their fellow human beings have not fully grasped the essence of who Jesus is.

Mother Teresa elucidates what the life of a ‘Jesus Follower’ should look like when she describes the work of her mission in Kolkata…

“As each Sister is to become a Co-Worker of Christ in the slums, each ought to understand what God and the Missionaries of Charity expect from her. Let Christ radiate and live his life in her and through her in the slums. Let the poor, seeing her, be drawn to Christ and invite him to enter their homes and their lives. Let the sick and suffering find in her a real angel of comfort and consolation. Let the little ones of the streets cling to her because she reminds them of him, the friend of the little ones.” ~ Mother Teresa

There was a song I used to sing in Sunday School when I was little called “They will know we are Christians by our love.” My hope is that this will be a true statement in the lives of all of us who follow the teachings of Jesus.

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Assistant Editor: Renee Picard / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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