Jesus is not safe. From The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the poem of Mr. Beaver…
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
“You’ll understand when you see him.”
And later Susan asks,
“Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Everyone loves the vision of humble Jesus meek and mild. We like the Jesus who is safe. We like the Jesus who never threatens, never challenges. We like the Jesus that agrees with us, and who shares our politics. Better yet, we like the Jesus that has nothing to say to us in our lives. We like Jesus the Savior, but Jesus the Lord is a little hard to follow.
Jesus continually shocks and terrifies. He stands up in the midst of storms, he walks on water, and he challenges his disciples to take risks for the Kingdom. He offends the powerful, and offers aid to the dregs of Jewish society. He doesn’t allow his followers to stay comfortable in their complacency. He doesn’t settle for enough because God has placed everything under his authority. If you are going to follow Jesus, expect to be scandalized. Expect Jesus to offend you.
Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. I suspect if he were with us today, Jesus would eat with drug dealers and illegal immigrants. I bet he would care for homosexual aids patients, and I suspect many of us would be scandalized. Jesus would probably be far more willing to show compassion, and yes, even be more liberal in his politics than many of us Evangelicals. You know what else? Jesus would break the laws of this nation if he thought there was a greater issue of righteousness at stake. Jesus did not worship nations. He loved only one kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
Jesus also would be far more serious and hard on sin than any of us. When you read the Gospel according to Matthew, what you find is a Jesus who instead of abolishing the Law of Moses, has come to fulfill it. Jesus cares a great deal about morality. In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus is actually making the righteous demands of God more serious than mere outward compliance. Jesus goes directly to the heart of the matter by addressing the disposition of a person’s heart toward God the Father and His holiness. He does not do this by increased legalism as the Pharisees did, but by taking the righteousness of God and making it an issue of internal purity that grows fruit in our lives. So while some Christians will be scandalized by the fact that Jesus would associate with those we see as undesirable, others would be scandalized that Jesus still expected all of us to conform to the righteous standard of God our Creator. Either way, Jesus would make someone angry.
Jesus is deliberately hard to categorize. Every box we try to put him in is just too small, but if you do construct a box and manage to squeeze Jesus into it, rest assured that the Jesus you have in that box isn’t Jesus at all. The Jesus you have in your box is probably just a poor copy of yourself.