john-wayne-gun

A couple of years ago I read a magazine interview of a handful of church leaders. I was intrigued with the question “What is the greatest danger facing the church today.” I found all of the answers helpful and insightful, all that is but one. One very well known preacher answered that the greatest danger of the church was “theological liberals.” OK, fair enough. He then went on to define the problem, “those who want to feminize Jesus into some limp wristed, latte sipping, sissy.” He then emphasized his rationale for this point, “I will not worship some god who I could beat up.”

Honestly, I can not think about these comments without getting furious – not because I happen to like a good latte (and I do), but because I love Jesus – the historical Jesus, the Jesus in the Bible. The comments by that pastor are on my mind today because it is Holy Week. It is the week when Jesus, who we Christians believe to be God, continued to humble Himself into the ultimate suffering servant. He allowed Himself to get beat up, and even killed. On this week, Jesus did not flex or “step up.” He did not pull out His power or demand His rights. On this week Jesus was not a very good “manly man.” He was not a good John Wayne.

Jesus flipped our cultural understanding of what it means to be “tough” on its head. Now it is tough to love your enemies. Now it is tough to pray for those who persecute you. Now it is tough to turn the other cheek.

The preacher in the interview has built an enormous ministry on his macho religion. He is cocky. He is crass. He is quick to mock anyone who does not line up with his belief or style. He is quick to tell everyone that he has the right doctrine. However, with statements like he made in that interview … I question if he really gets it.

The point of this post is not so much to blast that preacher, it is to call all of us to remember who Jesus is and how Jesus lived. I agree with the preacher that there is a serious danger in twisting our picture of Jesus into an image that fits our agenda. The point of Christianity is to mold our lives after the life of Jesus, not mold Jesus around our lives.

That is true whether you drink lattes or whiskey.

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