One of the reasons I find Jesus so compelling is because he doesn't seem all that interested in being compelling. He'd probably flunk a Dale Carnegie course.
Not only did he refuse to minimize the cost of following him, he often amplified it?!
Jesus went so far as to say to his followers: ‘You will be hated by all for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved.'
Oh. How'd ya like to be in that audience?
Can't ya just see the PR rep confiscating the mic and attempting to salvage things with something like, 'Um, Thank you for coming to our seminar today, everyone. Don't forget to claim your free golf umbrella on your way out.'
I don't know about you, but I love to be loved, or at least liked. I can endure some degree of hardship.......but being willing to be labeled 'evil?' After all, evil people deserve what they get, right?
Have you ever been demonized because of Jesus?
I have encountered a few (usually academics or clergy) who have labeled me evil and have broadcast it as far and wide as possible because, well…… I have been exactly that. I’ve said or done injurious things, which were made all the uglier by references to faith. Their ire is well deserved and I’ve had to ask forgiveness more often than I care to admit.
At other times, however, their disdain arises not from misbehavior but from the audacity of affirming the teaching of Jesus and the apostles on a host of issues (often, but not always, sexual in nature). Doing as much is deemed heretical by many who command the contemporary academic and clerical heights.
They are the gatekeepers and have gone to great lengths and demonstrated breathtaking theological elasticity to assure us that Jesus and the apostles (not to mention 2000 years of rigorous theological reflection by the likes of Aquinas and Augustine) didn't really mean what they actually said.
It's easy to follow Jesus when the cultural winds are at our back. The problem is that those winds are shifting at which point we must decide, sooner rather than later, whose approval matters most.
Eiríni tou Christoú