I don’t want a comfortable Jesus. Comfortable Jesus is the type of Jesus that puts up with a lot of stuff because, well, he’s trying to be nice. Comfortable Jesus is about being nice above all else. Being nice means not saying things that would raise questions or point out injustices or hang out with “those” people. Comfortable Jesus is really just a nice guy you see at Starbucks every day on the way to work, but you really don’t know. Comfortable Jesus is a nice neighbor from down the street who you wave to when they are walking their dog past your house.
I don’t need a comfortable Jesus. I have all that already.
Would comfortable Jesus be willing to mix it up, get in people’s face, question things, point out injustice? Risk death? Of course not.
What I need is a Jesus who is willing to go through death and hell and come back. It’s not a matter of wanting it. It’s a matter of needing it. Because if things rely on me, then I’m screwed. I’m going to fail and fall. Over and over again.
I need a Jesus who is willing to act out what he claims. I need a Jesus that is willing to stand beside me in the worst of circumstances.
Thankfully, then I read Scripture I see that Jesus. I hear Jesus tell his disciples to follow him. This isn’t an invitation to a BBQ. It’s an invitation to drop everything and follow him – he is the Lord of our lives.
I hear Jesus tell those who would follow him:
‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
Take up your cross. That’s not something like a hang nail that is bothersome and a burden. That’s pick up the thing that will kill you and follow Jesus. Willingly. Jesus is talking about death here. Not avoiding it. Walking right into it. Why? Because Jesus knows that death doesn’t have the last say.
I want a Jesus who gets in my face and asks me:
‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you?
Yes, a Jesus who won’t make nice and settle for me only wanting to follow him some times.
I want a Jesus who talks about gnawing his flesh and drinking his blood and then pointedly asking me:
‘Does this offend you?
‘Do you also wish to go away?’
He might as well be asking me this – are you all in on me? Or is that a bit too much for you?
Simon Peter responds to Jesus question by saying:
‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life’
Right on Peter. I’m with you Peter. Where else are we going to go? Certainly not some politician or political party. Certainly not to money or work. Certainly not to patriotism or capitalism or socialism or any other ism that exists. Certainly not to sports or health. Nothing else offers salvation.
And what will carry me forward and give me a course of action when I see a homeless person in need, or a hungry person, or someone who is sick, or dying, or in prison, or in need of clothes, or a listening ear, or who is in a broken relationship, or anything else.
Where else can we go?
This is the faith that I need. It’s the faith that is offered to each of us.