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Jesus is not nice!


Did you notice Jesus never over-emphasizes the Father's love or wrath? He walks a line of tempered confidence and firm compassion. The Lord's delayed response to sin (mercy) should not be confused with tolerance, and when He blesses us instead of punishing us as we deserve (grace), it should not be mistaken for compromise.


Westernized Christianity has become an easygoing, prosperous religion absent of conflict, suffering, and spiritual warfare. Many are indifferent or apathetic with a low capacity for spiritual things. Yet, Jesus Christ encountered opposition to His ministry repeatedly and demonstrated how His followers should respond. Believers are least like Christ when they hyper-focus on forgiveness, leaving out confession of sin, and freedom without biblical morality.


Who is this “nice Jesus”?

Jesus did not ignore or cower in the face of demonic forces. He did not excuse the lifestyle of loved ones because they were "raised in church" and "should know better." He did not permit self-righteous preachers to have the final say on how to enter the kingdom of God. And Jesus certainly didn’t hide out in synagogues and small groups, praying and waiting for the Father to do something. On the contrary, the Jesus we see in Scripture is bold, confrontational, and immovable. He has no problem engaging the culture and drawing a line to separate what is and what is not acceptable to God.


I think nice-Jesus was born from a theological view that believes the Lord's only response to sin is love. The Savior washed feet and healed the sick, so there's no way He would reject anything about us, right? And now that God has revealed Himself to be humble and gentle, He no longer rebukes or chastises anyone, right? He also doesn't show any emotion that's inconsistent with a benevolent nature, right? Wrong. God hasn't changed (see Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8); He still disciplines those He loves (see Prov. 3:12). In fact, the Jesus we see in the four Gospels would drive nice-Jesus out of churches today like He did the money changers in John 2:15.


Of course, kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23); it shares no relation to niceness. Due to verbal and mental laziness we may interchange these words but their definition and corresponding actions tell another story. A kind person is truthful, transparent, and remains tactful despite temptations to behave otherwise. A nice person will force smiles, fake laughs, give empty compliments, and put on a “front” to mask a different attitude in the heart.


Kindness costs something. Niceness costs nothing. Jesus was kind, but He was not nice.


God of the Old Testament

Do you believe the One who made the lame walk and fed the 5,000 is the same One who sent a death angel through Egypt and ordered Joshua to kill all the inhabitants of Jericho? You see, students of the Word spend as much time in Genesis to Malachi as they do Matthew to Revelation. They embrace the whole Bible and they know the blood of Jesus (sacrifice for sin), circumcision, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, are really the only elements that distinguish the old covenant from the new. Otherwise, mature believers have no issue discerning Christ in the Old Testament.


The path of revelation I found is as follows: According to John 1, before Jesus put on flesh, He was the Word of God in the beginning with God. And because He is the Word of God, every commandment, every decree, every prophesy, every statute given to the Jewish people was given by Jesus. When Moses went up on the mountain, I believe He saw Jesus and ate a meal with Him (see Ex. 24:9-11; 33:18-23). When Moses returned with the two tablets, he gave the people Jesus in the form of Ten Commandments (Law=Word=God). The Word's Name is not revealed to us until He appears as the Son in the New Testament, but it's clear everything God says has always been, and will always be, Jesus.


Now, think about Exodus 15:3, which says, our God is a warrior! The Lord killed people! A massive Flood, plagues, scorpions, earthquakes, famines, and Israeli armies were assembled for hand-to-hand combat. Without sinning whatsoever, God waged violent warfare against sin and evil. When we leave out the stern, ill-tempered Almighty of the Old Testament, we're left with a "meek and mild" Jesus. Yes, He makes for nice sermons...and nice sermons produce nice Christians which, in turn, produces a nice society where it's possible for me to have my own Jesus while you have yours. This explains why America looks the way it does today.


Standing with Truth

The lost are tough. They've been wandering around a cruel, dark world in survival mode, dealing with everything this life throws their way. Who says they can't take a strong rebuke for their lifestyle? Are sinners somehow incapable of realizing they're spiritually dead? Do we really need to add sugar and water to the gospel message? I think not. Lost people are looking for something authentic and constant that doesn’t shift with the culture, a standard of righteousness that doesn’t change with time. This is the Lord.


Second Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (MEV). So, first, we read the Bible in its entirety to understand the full context. We don't cherry pick the nice verses such as John 3:16, Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, and Philippians 4:13. Next, we accept what's plainly written without interpretation. For example, "Jesus loves you" is not the gospel. According to Matthew 22:36-40, love is the law (or command) of God. The true gospel is, “Prepare the way of the Lord” and “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (see Mk. 1:1-15). Let's preach it and teach it straight from both Testaments.


Finally, we see God for who He has revealed Himself to be. He is both love and truth, forgiving and strict, gracious and judicious. Jesus is both the Lamb and the Lion. Make sure you have a balanced view of the Lord and don’t emphasize one side of His nature over the other. This way, we will avoid delusion, disappointment, and offense. Also, understand God will not adapt to our preferences, but expects us to meet His glorious standards by putting faith in Jesus Christ. No doubt, if humans hated sin as much as He does, there would've been no need for Him to die in our place...a nice God would do no such thing.

 

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