Rethinking Jesus: Jesus' response to circumstances and people consistent, easy to understand

by Kyle
published September 20, 2014


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I like to get my hair cut.

I don’t have anyone in particular I use, and I usually go to the cosmetology school. The reason I love going there is because you never know who you’re going to get. Every time I go, I get to meet someone new.

The other day, I noticed my stylist had a tattoo of “Buddy Christ” from the 1999 movie “Dogma.” “Buddy Christ” is the re-branded, happy and approachable Jesus. He has a big grin, one finger pointing out and his other thumb up, as if to say, “You’re OK.” It’s the kind of pose frat boys make as they enter a party.

So I asked him about his tattoo. I’d never seen that as a tattoo, and I expected a story about a dare along with a snide comment about how ridiculous God is. That is, after all, a main theme of the movie the image comes from.

Instead, I was surprised by sincerity.

He told me he was convinced Jesus is more than the pale-looking scrawny white guy who always looked so serious and sad. I agreed.

He went on to explain that while Jesus was sad sometimes and the cross was certainly not pleasant, Jesus was a complex personality just like anyone else. At least, I think he meant complex. However, the word he used was “complicated.”

As I thought about it, though, I had to disagree with the word “complicated.”

“Complex” is when something has many or intricate components, or consists of intricate or nuanced concepts. Being fully God and fully man certainly makes Jesus complex. But something is “complicated” when external factors make something difficult to understand or undertake, or if the results of a particular action are inconsistent because of changing circumstances.

If Jesus were complicated, there would be many different things that governed the way he treated people. Two people doing the same thing could expect different treatment from Jesus because of external factors outside of their control. External factors, however, never determined how Jesus responded, and the way he responded to circumstances and people is actually consistent and simple to understand.

James, Jesus’ brother, notes God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Jesus, being God, always responded to people this way.

Look at the Pharisees. Jesus was so mean to those guys. He called them “white-washed tombs” and “child(ren) of hell.” (Matthew 23:27 and 15, respectively) In fact, Matthew 23 — the whole chapter — is Jesus telling the Pharisees off to their face. Why? They were proud and arrogant people who thought they had everything figured out and didn’t need anybody to help them.

Look at the woman caught in adultery in John 8. She made no defense. She hardly says anything at all. She has no pretense and is keenly aware her life is in danger. Details on her response are actually sparse, but there is absolutely no hint of pride in her.

So while Jesus encourages her to “leave (her) life of sin,” (John 8:11), he does not condemn her, and his words are kind. In every story and interaction, you can reliably bet on the tone of what Jesus will say next. If someone is proud, he’ll be harsh. When someone — anyone — demonstrates an accurate awareness of who they actually are, Jesus is always kind and encouraging, even when he corrects wrong behavior or ideas.

The same way I sat down at the stylist’s chair and got a haircut, and can expect a haircut every time I sit down in his chair, Jesus will always respond to humility the same way. Treating Jesus like God and being aware of our own failings will always invite kindness, understanding and grace from Him.

No one who comes to Jesus this way ever has anything to fear. How about you? How much could you use kindness, understanding and grace from the creator and king of the universe? All you have to do is act like you need it, which shouldn’t be hard since we all do.

What do you think?

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