Close your eyes. Picture Jesus in your mind. What are the primary details that define His appearance?
For many of us in the western world, our very first impressions of The Lord came from the picture illustrations found within grandma's old family Bible. Do you remember those somewhat feminized images of Jesus? Do you remember the oddly soft and well-rounded features the artist used to portray Him? Do you remember feeling uncomfortable or at least puzzled by His girlish features? Like the paintings of near nakedness that decorate the domed ceilings of Europe's cathedrals, those less than manly illustrations in grandma's old family Bible impacted us. Somehow they just didn't feel accurate, yet those were the first visual impressions we had of the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the God/man.
Take a moment and contrast the most popular images of Jesus with the more probable truth.
Image Presented by the Western World: Tall, clean white robe with purple sash, stylish sandals, soft hands, fair complexion, neatly trimmed beard, blue eyes, and a pleasant voice that soothes the soul.
The More Probable Truth: Short, soiled robe, dirty feet, rough hands, leathery complexion, scrawny beard, dark eyes, and a booming voice that demands conviction.
Years ago, Canon introduced a highly successful ad campaign featuring tennis player, Andre Agassi. His most memorable line was the flamboyant declaration - "Image is everything!" Ironically, that slogan about image actually damaged his image. Many in the sports media felt he was endorsing style over substance.
Could it be that the image of Jesus has suffered a similar fate? Is it possible that we, the campaign managers of the Gospel (Romans 10:14-15), have damaged Christ's image in the world by leaving the impression that Christianity is more about style than it is about substance?
I truly believe that one of the main reasons our culture has lost its moral compass is because God's people have responded poorly to our culture's moral compromise. Too many church leaders have watered down the warnings of God and defaulted to a more delicate presentation. On the other hand, many others have become so validated by their own personal war on sin that they seem to take a sick pleasure in controversy. Somewhere between the spineless, near-impotent pandering of compromise and the harsh religious rantings of self-righteousness there has to be middle ground!
In the following lessons, I hope to find that middle ground with you. Together we will discover some eye-opening facts about a Jesus Who was so gentle He would pause to take a child onto His lap, yet so brazen He would intentionally goad religious and political leaders into conflict and debate. Our topics will include:
The Lord of Balance
The Abrasive Savior
The Congenial Christ
The Keys to Cultural Confrontation
I hope you will join me. The Christian community desperately needs this study. The polarized extremes of spineless sermons and misdirected rage are crippling our effectiveness. It's time to embrace the complete personality of Jesus. It's time to make it real!
Want to continue this series? Go to:
Gentle Jesus? Not Always!: "The Lord of Balance"
Gentle Jesus? Not Always!: "The Abrasive Savior: Religion"
Gentle Jesus? Not Always!: "The Abrasive Savior: Politics"
Gentle Jesus? Not Always!: "The Congenial Christ"
Gentle Jesus? Not Always!: "Keys to Cultural Confrontation"
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