Who is Jesus Today?

I was cleaning up another blog and thought this post might be of interest to SoulPreaching.Com readers….

Someone on a blog that has been discontinued asked an interesting question about Jesus, “Who would Jesus be today?” The answer given was a little unsettling to me, you can read it in part here:

He would definitely be a cutting-edge postmodern pastor, I thought right away. I bet he would surprise many church goers and administrators. He would most likely read the Scriptures on his PDA and would probably preach his sermons from it. He would keep a blog, dress business casual, grow a weird goatee, listen to alternative Christian music on his iPod and meet with his friends at Starbucks.

Jesus and the DisinheritedAs I read this I immediately became uncomfortable with the picture of Jesus that emerges. While Jesus is no longer the tight-laced, suit wearing, hymn singing conservative, he is turned into an individual on the cutting edge. However what was concerning to me is that it appears that one version of the middle class American Jesus was exchanged for a different one. Jesus is still a middle class American with enough money to own an ipod, PDA, and keep a blog.

Domesticating Jesus

Now the blog entry continues by stating we often remake Jesus into our own image and we domesticate him. I agree with this, and I think the above image of Jesus does that very thing.

Howard Thurman interprets Jesus for the modern world beginning with a few simple facts. The first fact is that Jesus was a poor Jew. Thus fact meant that Jesus “identified in birth and [was] placed initially with the great mass of [humanity].” Jesus and the Disinherited, page 17

Howard Thurman also interprets Jesus as being a “member of minority group in the midst of a larger dominant and controlling group.” Jesus and the Disinherited, page 18

Thurman reminds us that when Paul was mistreated he could appeal to Ceaser because he was a Roman citizen, but not so with Jesus. Jesus had not such citizenship and was mistreated as any poor member of a minority group is treated.

Is this the real Picture?


Who is Jesus today? Is Jesus like Thurman’s picture or more like the super hip cool Jesus? As for me, I doubt he would own an IPOD or PDA. It is hard to see the one who had nowhere to lay his head owning these conveniences. I doubt he would be welcome at Starbucks, he might be one of those individuals that we walk by on the way to Starbucks…He probably wouldn’t be blogging in that we have no record of him writing at all.

I know this is only my picture, but I think he would probably have an old beat up Bible, probably one of those free Gideon ones. His message would be uncomfortable to post-modernity as well as modernity. If he were an American at all he might not be a citizen. Maybe he might be from a particularly poor African village hit by AIDS. They did say “Can any good thing come from Nazereth.”

The Real Jesus is Uncomfortable

The Jesus of the Bible is uncomfortable. He makes demands. He afflicts us where we are comfortable. He questions our values. He saves us to a new way of being in the world. The postmodern “hip” Jesus described above simply is a mild annoyance to a segment of the church today….

In our preaching, let us not fall into the trap of preaching the Jesus we want to see, but preach the real Jesus, so that we and our people can be changed in the process. Because the “hip” Jesus who is our buddy more than our Lord and Savior does not have the power to change anything or anyone.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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Cory - January 27, 2009 Reply

Thanks for a very well thought out observation. I’ve been reading about different Church models and have seen the tendency you warn against in many of the “Emergent” Churches.
Keep praying and thinking out loud for us!
C

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