Am I Following a Faux Jesus?

31 03 2012

Awhile ago a friend of mine said something to me that, while not new, struck me in a freshly painful way–that if Jesus came and ministered among us today we would likely crucify Him again. Think about it. Would He seem so heretical–would we protect our doctrine, our “law”–would He join the “wrong side” of the political divide? Would He appear so worldly that we would see Him as compromising truth and therefore an impostor? Would His style be so plebeian, so poor and socially unacceptable? Would He be homeless and uncouth, such that we would ostracize Him as a weirdo? Would He stink up our nice sanctuaries, soiling the theater seats? We wouldn’t “crucify” Him literally, but we’d do so creatively by side-lining His impact.

Here’s what we would do–we’d divide like cells. Jesus would become Head of the unseemly part of the body, and we up here would appoint a co-head to lead us. This co-head would not be a human, for that would be heresy. No, he would be an imaginary Jesus, crafted according to our own liking. This compatible co-head would never speak disparagingly of the real Jesus. In fact, we would have selective quotes from Jesus Himself which we would put in the mouth of our preferred Jesus. Occasionally we would bring the two together over a sermon, but for the most part the two Lords wouldn’t get along too well.

Crucifixion would amount to stealing away part of Christ’s body and attaching those parts to a socially acceptable impostor. It would surprise the impostor-followers to realize that the real Jesus doesn’t know them, for in fact they don’t actually know Him. This is a grand deception, especially since these two messiah’s aren’t distinctly seen–they are look-alikes. But, no one can serve two masters, so someone needs to start paying attention to this huge misunderstanding. Someone needs to find out who the true messiah is and work every day to follow Him. Someone needs to recognize the slight of hand going on and face up to the real Jesus.

I’m afraid such a confrontation with reality might happen something like this. A knock would come at my door right at supper time. I answer and the real Jesus is standing there looking nothing at all like my rendition of Him. Suffice it to say He didn’t step out of a painting. Instead, He looks like He just walked 24 miles from inner city Seattle where He’s been in a homeless shelter for quite awhile. The worst happens. He asks if He can come in for supper. Every inch of me screams “No” inside. So I make up some partially true reason why it is really a bad night for visitors but another time would be okay.

But let’s say I didn’t do what I really did, and He is sitting at our dinner table. And let’s imagine I didn’t actually find a convincing reason that He couldn’t stay overnight. Suppose I got through to the next morning with the real Jesus Christ. How might He threaten me so severely that I would mentally check out on Him, that I would step back and decide that I needed to stick with my impostor Jesus? I think it could well happen if He told me to have some of my neighbors over for dinner this weekend–especially the ones who nobody really likes or talks to, or the ones who haven’t mowed their lawn all summer, or those who are black and play loud rap music. I could quietly switch Lords over something like that. Or if He started to get nosy about my finances. If He said I ought to sell my house and live by faith, I’m pretty sure I’d reason inside that He is out of touch with the need for equity as one moves into retirement age. After all He died at age 33 in a society without banks and insurance. What could He possibly understand about financial security these days?

If Jesus invited a bunch of seedy people over to my house–like street-walkers or meth users–that would force me to switch. If He tried to get me to visit homeless shelters, old people’s homes–or if He felt taxes should be raised in order to increase welfare, which is already inefficient and abused. If He came to church and told me I am hanging around in social isolation with people who knowingly seal themselves off from others who make them uncomfortable–even though they say they don’t–this would make it easy to change to a faux master.

No, I wouldn’t put Jesus back on a cross–that was the method of a barbaric time. I would put Him away more subtly; I’d create an alternate reality–sort of like  the evolutionists theory. I’d want so badly for it to be true, I’d piece together evidence to prove it. I’d ignore the gaps of logic I couldn’t explain and live by tenacious faith in the messiah I so longed to be real.

All of this brings things into really sharp focus: Someone needs to be crucified again and it isn’t the real Jesus. It’s me.