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Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Domestication of Christ

Deep down I have an urge to tame Christ, to make him in my own image, to thoroughly domesticate him to the ways of Wayne's world.

If some Sunday morning he should walk in upon our Sunday school class, I would like to think I would be all awe and worship; but I have serious doubts about that. You see, I have carefully tamed and domesticated Christ to conform to my point of view regarding all matters.  I have him in the pocket of all my prejudices regarding popular and controversial issues.  I nonchalantly assume in all practical matters there is no daylight between us.  But hold on a minute, suppose one day he actually did enter our class, go to the front of the room and begin speaking--eying me specifically.  What would I really be feeling in my gut?  Realistically the answer is crystal clear--my stomach would be churning in anxiety over fear that he would do what he managed to do some 2,000 years ago to the assumptive presumptuous--show all my spanking, sparkling pride is nothing but a pile of hypocritical dirty rags.

Frank Johnson and his wife Patricia have been good friends of mine since 1962 when we met as single freshmen at the University of South Florida.  Today Frank re-sent an email he first sent in April of 2006.  As typical of Frank, he is frank and concise.  He gave me permission to share this with you.

Sent: 05/03/14; originally sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 12:45 PM
Subject: Why did He die?

Friends and Family,

As we approach Holy and Good Friday, the annual commemoration of the crucifixion of Christ, we might well ask the question: "Why did He die?"  Just what did Jesus do to be subjected to the horror and humiliation of death on the Cross?

As I reflect on the portrait of Jesus as presented in the Four Gospels and throughout the rest of the New Testament, I am led to the following very general conclusion--Jesus died because at some time or another in some way or another, He antagonized almost everyone:

Liberals of His day thought Jesus was too conservative, while conservatives thought He was too liberal.

Traditionalists thought He was too modern, while progressives thought He was too traditional.

Activists thought Jesus was too quiet, while quietists thought He was too active.

The orthodox of His day found Jesus to be unorthodox, while the heterodox found Him to be too orthodox.

Jesus was an "equal opportunity" antagonist.  He did not discriminate.  He irritated just about everyone in some way or another at some time or another.  Though He loved all, He made enemies of many.  A lot of people just could not understand Jesus--they did not want to understand Him really--for He threatened their petty pre-conceived notions about religion, politics, and life in general.  He did not fit anybody's mold.  Jesus was "his own man."  He was God's man.  He was and is the God-Man who rises above and stands above all of our ideas about religion, politics, and life--Jesus stands in judgment of it all--liberal, conservative, whatever.  So the gossip-mongers did what they do best--they began to "crucify Him" first with their lips and with their tongues.

Jesus' mission was and is to "upset the applecart"--to irritate us, to annoy us, to antagonize us, to wake us up to the presence--and to the coming--of the Kingdom of God.  And I do mean "us"--you and me.  If you and I do not find some aspect of our lives challenged by Christ, that might be because we have re-created Christ and made Him into our own image and likeness.  If Christ does not challenge us, perhaps it is because we have remolded Him and reduced Him to a mirror image of ourselves to make Him safer and less threatening--perhaps we have allowed ourselves to "be conformed to this world" instead of "being transformed by the renewal of our minds" (Romans 12:2) so that we may have in ourselves "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). 

Why did Jesus die?  Because people 2000 years ago were no different from us.  They tried to "pigeonhole" Christ.  They tried to make Him fit their concepts and expectations.  But Jesus just did not fit.  They could not understand Him.  They could not put a "handle" on Him, so they put nails through "His holy, pure, and blameless hands."  They crucified Him.  And we still do today.

That's my theory about "why did Jesus die."

In Him,
    Frank Johnson

(05/03/14) P.S. - The question is not "Is Jesus on our side?"--but rather "Are we at His side?"--His spear-wounded side--the side from which flow the sacramental blood/wine and water of our salvation--and the salvation of the whole world.  So it is that one trying to follow Christ might take a so-called "conservative" stance on the issues of abortion, natural marriage & the family, and then might adopt a so-called more "liberal" position on the issues of capital punishment, environment and immigration, all this because the humane priorities of the Kingdom of God are not necessarily the priorities of the politics and the politicians of this world.

P.P.S. - And as Pope Francis points out in this short video, "the Passion of Jesus was not a mistake" -

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