Was Jesus “Nice”?

One of the “concerns” people often have after they hear me share goes something like this: “It seems that your focus on befriending Muslims and others clearly outside the faith, waters down the gospel. The real gospel. The hard gospel. I mean, Jesus wasn’t just “Mr. Nice Guy” like you seem to suggest.” It’s a great question actually. Here are a couple things I’ve noticed about Jesus in recent years – both his life on earth 2000 years ago, and his life now through the Spirit.

  1. If you think Jesus is into small things – like “one on one mentoring” – then if you let him, he’ll show you how he’s into big things – like the crowds. (And vice versa).
  2. If you think Jesus was “nice” to people, he’ll then show you how he’s hard to follow and downright “hard” on people. (And vice versa).
  3. If you think Jesus was God – he’ll show you his humanity. (And vice versa).

Whatever your “take” on Jesus is, he’ll surprise you. If he’s not surprising you, and he fits nicely in the box you have for him (whatever that box is), then you might be following the Jesus in your head, but not the real one.

Now…back to the question. And…here’s my answer: Jesus was in fact hard on certain people. Actually very hard. But almost exclusively they were the insiders. The religious leaders. Sometimes the disciples. The closer they were to the available truth without getting it, the harder he was on them. But to the outsiders, he was gentle and compassionate. And the further “out” they were, the “nicer” Jesus seemed to be. Lepers, Samaritans, women, prostitutes – all treated well by Jesus. Therefore, it’s my conclusion that today Jesus would be “hard” on me and you. He would be hard on those that bear his name without acting like him (like me). And he’d be gracious and merciful to the ones we think are furthest from the Kingdom. Like Muslims. So encouraging “dialog” and “understanding” with Muslims in order to bring them closer to the Kingdom is a good thing. If the ultimate goal is to assist them in meeting the real Jesus in a real way, then these efforts are good. If it’s simply to build a bridge and then stand on the bridge in admiration of our work, then it’s flawed.

May we all get to the other side – where Jesus is standing and waiting with open arms inviting us to dinner.

Comments

  1. Ian says:

    just been watching your DVD series “A story for the heart” with others of Gods family, here where I live in London. WOW!!! Jesus has so opened my eyes as a result. Thank You. Other I excitedly gosip to about the series want to see it too. Is it the same as the ‘Engage’ series?

    Agape & Shalom

  2. Nate Schaub says:

    Such a great article, Carl! Love it…

  3. Mike Fahrenbruch says:

    the three points you make in the middle really speak to me. Great observations. Thanks for sharing them!

    1. SARA MAYFIELD says:

      I ENJOYED THE WHOLE THING MYSELF

  4. Cheri' White says:

    “If the ultimate goal is to assist them in meeting the real Jesus in a real way, then these efforts are good. If it’s simply to build a bridge and then stand on the bridge in admiration of our work, then it’s flawed.”

    I love this statement!!

    I sooo want my heart to be in line with the first part of that statement, but am convicted that far too often I think I stand on the bridge. Thanks for this post! It convicts me and makes me turn to the real Jesus for some real change!

  5. John Bennett says:

    Love it Carl – that’s how I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I have some people at my church who have “gone after me” because I think aloud how Jesus would handle homosexuals, Muslims, “illegal aliens”, atheists, abortion minded women.

    My basic thought is that many of those people see us as the enemy. And maybe we are. But if we are going to be the enemy – may it be because we love them – greet them -respect them – and engage with them!

    Isn’t that what it means to be a Christian? To be a person who radically loves those who are last, least, and lost.

    johnb

  6. Jeff Sharlet says:

    Carl — apologies for posting a comment on another topic. I’m wondering if you’re the C. Medearis who reviewed my book, “The Family,” on Amazon. I believe I met your wife some years ago.

    If I have the right person, would you be willing to contact me at the email I’ve used for this post? Nothing bad — I’d just like to communicate with you.

  7. cable says:

    Hi,
    Nice article! I have gone through your post. I don’t want to criticize it as I don’t think I am great critic. But I found your article a little bit complex to understand.

  8. Don Buhl says:

    I am up to date on how to use this type of communication. this is the only place I could find to post this request.

    Hi Carl or anyone who can help.

    Do you have time to help?

    Long time ago my family lived on the island of Cyprus with Life Agape (part of CCC).

    The question below comes from Professor Dan. A friend that I have been sharing the gospel with for several years. He is a liberal professor from liberal college and went to very liberal church. His conclusion is there is no God because If god is Love then why so much war and pain. I have and I am still addressing those points. Keeping to the main point “who is Jesus and what are you Dan doing about your sins”

    I am positive because he is still asking questions.

    I sent him your latest email about the film. (Mideast has been a topic)

    Here is his question. Can you give me some leads or links where I could address his question? Why did God give the Jews and the Muslims the same real estate?

    From Pros Dan
    We enjoyed seeing you and Judy again. I will probably not purchase the video you mentioned, Sue and I have felt for many years that our government has been
    much too one-sided in favor of Israel. I agree it’s mostly a religious issue? Why did God give the Jews and the Muslims the same real estate?

    Don

  9. Elizabeth Taylor says:

    I guess I’m going to end up commenting on every one of your posts. I must be addicted to your blog already! 🙂

    1. Elizabeth Taylor says:

      This time, I wasn’t actually finished, just hit a wrong button.

      Anyway, you are absolutely right on with this post. Those who are not believers in Jesus get total “Grace” while believers have signed up for the program so they get (loving) “Discipline” for chronic disobedience.

      The thing I have trouble with and that I think we all should be struggling with, from time to time, is the Truth/Love thing. We are not loving someone if we never tell them the truth. Jesus intensely loved the woman at the well and told her the truth (at the same time), while someone like me might be afraid of hurting her feelings or something.

      Obviously, it takes time and trust to build relationships, but at some point, we need to be thinking about laying out a little “truth”. Maybe sharing our own personal story is the best way to do it?

      Just some thoughts…