Christ Under Control

We've got to do something about Jesus. Tone Him down somehow. Make Him fit more into our idea of twentieth-century spirituality. Maybe it's these new translations that are causing the problem. King James's English kept Him comfortably distant, slightly removed from reality; but the new translations make Him appear so . . . well, so (cringe) . . . human.

   If He was really human, then we have a big problem — then we, too, have to grapple with our humanity. Oh no, please! Anything but that! Save me. Heal me. Sign, seal and deliver me, but don't make me deal with real life. Don't tell me my everyday is a spiritual experience. Let me keep my spirituality separate from my humanity. Let me keep it in nice, neat devotional compartments so I don't have to think about how I live.

   That's what is beginning to bother me about Jesus. He was so normal. Take His first miracle as a case in point. He kept a party going. He saw the wine was giving out, so He changed 180 gallons of water into wine. It almost looks like He enjoyed people having a good time. That's downright unspiritual! Christians

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aren't supposed to be at parties like that in the first place, much less providing the wine. I'll bet people were even dancing! This is very disturbing.

   Speaking of unspiritual, He was awfully rude. Have you ever noticed how He hardly answered the question they asked? He always pricked at the harder question no one wanted to face. Why couldn't He have given the answer His listener wanted to hear just once in a while? Why couldn't He have been nice?

   Especially to the Pharisees. Have you ever read what He called them to their faces? "Blind guides, blind fools, hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, snakes, a brood of vipers" (Matt. 23). That's not a very nice way to talk about people in front of their friends.

   You know, it almost looks like He was purposely trying to step on people's toes. He let His disciples gather grain on the Sabbath, He touched unclean lepers, He ate dinner with tax collectors, He healed cripples on the Sabbath and then told them to carry their beds around for a while, and He was nice to prostitutes and Samaritan women.

   He even expressed all kinds of ordinary, human emotions. He got frustrated with His disciples and wondered when they would ever understand. He often got tired and wanted to go away to rest. Once He slept through a terrible storm at sea because He was exhausted. He was hungry and thirsty. The moneychangers made Him so angry that He disrupted the entire temple marketplace in rage. He became lonely and depressed because no one would stay up and pray with Him in the garden. Imagine, He actually needed and longed for human companionship. And He liked kids; He put them above things that seemed more important.

   He even cried. This is almost too difficult to bear. He cried at a memorial service. (Now, why did He do that? He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, that there was going to be a great victory. But He cried anyway.) Really. Christians shouldn't cry at funerals — it's evidence that they lack faith.

   We really do have a problem on our hands. We can talk about what He said and about the horrible things God has delivered us from. We can praise God and talk about how Christ is coming again to take us to our eternal home, but we must downplay the way Jesus lived.

   Actually, we're on the right track — satin robes, glorious

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churches, impressive performances, bright spotlights, and television ... ah yes, thank God for television. A 21-inch screen always keeps the truth out of ordinary life.

   And that's really the point, isn't it? I've got to keep Christ out of ordinary life. Otherwise, I may have to face mine.

Chapter 14  ||  Table of Contents