People Jesus Didn't Lik
Several years ago, Mad Magazine defined a "super patriot."
See the super patriot.
Hear him preach how he loves his country.
Hear him preach how he hates liberals...
And moderates...and intellectuals...
And activists...and pacifists...
And minority groups...and aliens...
And unions...and teenagers...
And the very rich...and the very poor...
And people with foreign sounding names.
Now you know what a Super Patriot is.
Heís someone who loves his country
While hating 93% of the people who live in it.
I donít think Jesus would have liked the Super Patriot! But, the Super Patriot probably quotes Jesus when it suits his purpose. Isnít it interesting how we all like to define the world on our terms, and then gather support from wherever we can find it! The idea for this sermon came to me when the TV preachers, one by one, bit the dust, and lost their jobs. I must confess that I donít like many of the TV preachers, and experience a compelling temptation to identify the kinds of people Jesus didnít like with the people I donít like. We all want support for our prejudices and biases!
Does it surprise you to have it suggested that Jesus didnít like everyone? We sometimes have this picture of a meek and mild Jesus who was a nice, polite, friendly gentleman; one who antagonized no one; one who is your all-around good guy. We forget that Jesus ended up on a cross, executed as a common criminal, because he made some enemies. Yes, Jesus loved everyone, as we are commanded to do, but I doubt if he liked everyone! Put it this way. There were certain people who irritated Jesus, people with whom Jesus lost patience, people with whom he was abrupt, people he would not choose to be with socially, and when he was with them socially, sometimes found it difficult to remain civil and polite to them.
Iím talking about people Jesus loved, but people with whom Jesus got upset. Iím talking about the people Jesus confronted with what they were doing to other people and their country. Iím talking about the people Jesus challenged with the high ideals of Godís way. If Jesus walked our country today, if Jesus walked up and down the peninsula, I wonder what people Jesus wouldnít like. I wonder how Jesus would feel about you and me. How does Jesus judge us?
Who are the people Jesus didnít like? As I read through Matthew, Mark, and Luke, looking for the people Jesus didnít like, I really tried to be objective, and I discovered Jesus didnít like pushy people. Jesus got very upset with, and confronted, pushy people. Jesus got irritated with people who put themselves first, people who expect the best for themselves, people who push ahead of other people; people who love to be noticed. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, Matthew 6:1-6:
Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they already been paid in full. (In others, they will get theirs!) But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. (In other words, they will get theirs!) But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
Jesus got upset with those who want to be noticed. And Jesus got upset with those who push for and expect the best seats at dinners (to the right of the host and hostess in our culture), and those who expect to sit in the reserved seats in the synagogue. "Woe to you, how terrible for you," Jesus remonstrated.
Now, Jesus is not saying that we are to be pushovers. Jesus was certainly assertive, especially when it came to standing up for people who were being hurt, mistreated, and taken advantage of by the pushy people. In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, our group was patiently standing in line waiting to go into the shrine the Orthodox Church has built over the site of the empty tomb from which Jesus was resurrected. This is a holy place for Christians, a place where the power of God was demonstrated for all time. We were patiently standing in line and approaching the entrance when a large group of German tourists, who are notoriously rude, walked up to us as if they were passing through. Our group parted to let them go through; only, to our surprise, they stopped. They had crashed the line, bypassing at least 50 people, and dividing our group. Pushy people! My gentle wife, who quickly becomes assertive when pushy people attempt to push, put out her elbows and slowly backed up, pushing the Germans to the side, and allowing those in our group who had been pushed back, to retake their positions! As I think about it, we should have joined hands and let the entire line resume their positions, keeping the Germans in their rightful place!
Jesus didnít like pushy people, people who push themselves and their positions into the limelight, pushing themselves ahead of other people. Nor, and especially, Jesus didnít like pushy people who arrogantly try to push their ideas, their morality, and their rules on other people. Jesus got upset with pushy people who try to lord it over others. Jesus got upset with pushy people who hold others accountable to their ways, but not necessarily do they hold themselves accountable! Some of the religious leaders were upset when they learned that Jesusí disciples were not performing all the minute rituals. They approached Jesus and asked, (Matthew 15:1-9)
"Why is it that your disciples disobey the teaching handed down by our ancestors? They donít wash their hands in the proper way before they eat!" Jesus answered, "And why do you disobey Godís command and follow your own teaching? For God said, `Honor your father and your mother,í...But you teach that if a person has something he could use to help his father or mother, but says, `This belongs to God,í he does not need to honor his father. In this way you disregard Godís command, in order to follow your own teaching. You hypocrites! How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! "These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach man-made rules as though they were my laws!"
Jesus didnít like pushy people who tried to enforce their rules on other people, especially when they presented their ideas as Godís ideas, as "Scripture," and Jesus also didnít like people who did not practice what they preached, who pretended to be something they werenít. (Matthew 23:23-27)
You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the season herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty...Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel. How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness. Blind Pharisee! Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too! ...You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside. In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.
A few weeks ago another TV evangelist bit the dust. This time, the pastor of the Los Gatos Christian Church. He had been pastor of the church 29 years and the churchís membership had grown to 6,500 members! What I find interesting is not the "sexual sinning," for we are all humans, we all have such temptations. What I find interesting is the theology, the context in which these TV churches operate, and the response. By and large, these are judgmental churches, self-righteous even, who are very sure, even sometimes arrogant, about what is right and wrong, and are quick, if allowed, to impose their standards of righteousness on the rest of us. Listen to these strong words of Jesusíin Matthew 7:1-5, which describe how self-righteousness backfires!
Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and God will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.
God will apply to you the same rules, the same standards, the same expectations you apply to others, especially when you try to lord it over others. This awesome truth brings me full circle back to the observation that we all try to get Jesus on our side, and try to find supporting evidence in the words and life of Jesus to support our biases. Who is a present-day example of people Jesus didnít like? I am! And, probably you! I am guilty of trying to get Jesus on my side and to agree with me. The temptation is to identify the people Jesus didnít like with the people I donít like. That exercise is exactly the kind of behavior and the kind of person Jesus didnít like! Insofar as I try to find the Scriptural passages that agree with me, rather than changing myself to agree with the Scriptures, I am guilty of irritating Jesus. Insofar as I try to get Jesus on my side, rather than getting myself on Jesusí side, I am guilty of irritating Jesus.
What I am concluding is that we are all under judgment, and there is something about all of us that Jesus doesnít like. Whenever we are judgmental, whenever we rejoice in someone elseís misfortune--even the TV preachersí misfortune, whenever we try to lord it over someone else, whenever we get self-righteous and think we know more or are better than anyone else, whenever we get pushy for our own advancement, we are under judgment. And, "God will judge us in the same way we judge others." Our "pushiness" will work against us.
What I understand from studying the life of Jesus, is that Jesus didnít like pushy people, people who think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. "Blessed are those," said Jesus, "who are poor in spirit." Blessed are you who are humble; not pushovers, not meek and mild, but humble; not pushy, not pushing yourself, not pushing your own ideas, not pushing your own righteousness; but humbly trusting in and relying on the grace of God.
ã 1988 Douglas I. Norris