Perhaps You Have Been Cheated

Do you know Jesus as a person or a painting? Is he a perfectly carved, crafted statue with a beatific smile on his face or does he have flesh and blood that sweats, smells bad and bleeds when he cuts himself. Does your Jesus stub his toe; accidentally hit his thumb with his hammer and yell, “oh darn” or___________! Does he get tired and impatient with people always wanting something from him or is he always perfectly composed, gentle, kind, gracious, and happy to see them?

You may wonder why I am asking these questions. Because I believe we have been cheated. Many of us have a Jesus that is not really human, who lived his life in another world and is totally untouchable, unapproachable or out of touch with the reality we have to live with.

When you ask someone what Jesus is like you normally will hear the words loving and compassionate. Or they will talk about his humility and faith. But what about his playfulness, his wit, irreverence, exasperation and impatience? What about that which defines his humanity; his personality?

We are told in Scripture (John 8:29) that we will be conformed to the likeness of his Son. If that is going to happen here and I don’t have a realistic picture of Jesus, of how he really was as a flesh and blood man, than for me that scripture is unrealistic and unattainable.

A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. To be mistaken about him is the saddest mistake of all.

In his book “Beautiful Outlaw,” John Eldridge writes,

“If you do not know Jesus as a person, know his remarkable personality—playful, cunning, fierce, impatient with all that is religious, kind, creative, irreverent, funny—you have been cheated.

If you do not experience Jesus intimately, daily, in these very ways, if you do not know the comfort of his actual presence, do not hear his voice speaking to you personally—you have been robbed.

If you do not know the power of his indwelling life in you, shaping your personality, healing your brokenness, enabling you to live as he did—you have been plundered.”

Cheated, robbed, plundered! Those are pretty strong words. As I read them and thought about my own personal feelings about Jesus, and how I saw him I realized that for much of my life I did not know him as a man with flesh and blood but as someone so holy, pure, and righteous that for me to even think of being in his presence was crazy. Because I do sweat and smell and bleed. I do say more than “oh darn” when I accidentally hit my thumb with a hammer. I do get tired and impatient with people and want to be left alone.

To try and be like Jesus for any length of time was so far out of my reach that it was for me unattainable. Sure, I could be like Jesus Sunday morning when at church or when around my “religious friends.” But what about when my teenager has just smarted off to me, or that driver in front of me is poking along talking on their cell phone?

But then all of that began to change. I did begin to know him intimately, hear his voice, and see him as a friend. I did see the side of him that is playful, irreverent, funny, impatient with all that is religious. I began to see his humanness and understood that through the power of his indwelling presence he was healing my brokenness and shaping my personality so I could live as he lived.

I don’t have to try and be perfect, sinless and always-in control. In fact, it’s not even possible. But I can be better and over time conformed and transformed so that people hopefully see more of Jesus and less of me. But most importantly I began to see Jesus as a human dealing with many of the same feelings and issues I’ve had. And I can fully know that he understands those contradictions in my life and yet in spite of them, loves me.

So the question is: what is your Jesus like? Have you been cheated, robbed, plundered? If so, you can change that by replacing that unreal Jesus with the one who has flesh and blood and is much like we are. Spend some time with him, get to know him as a friend. Get honest with him and you will discover he will be the best friend you ever had. He has a great personality and is fun to be with.