by Michael J. Klassen
Jesus was a bad-ass. Really, there’s no other way to say it.
Even at a young age, we could see glimpses of his true colors. At age 12, he flouted the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother.” After celebrating the Passover, he disobeyed his parents by remaining in Jerusalem when he was supposed to accompany their delegation on the journey home to Nazareth. His behavior resulted in his parents spending three days looking for him. The desperation in his mother’s voice was apparent: “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” (Luke 2:48).
After preaching his first sermon, his listeners nearly threw him off the edge of a cliff. Unlike most people, Jesus wasn’t concerned with being liked. He knew who he was—the son of God—and he wasn’t afraid to condemn his family and friends for their parochialism (see Luke 4:14-30).
Jesus Wasn’t Particularly Interested In Winning Anyone’s Approval…
Jesus didn’t seem overly concerned with keeping his family happy. Once, while preaching, his family showed up, intent on speaking to him. “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you,” someone told him. Jesus’ response? “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?…Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).
Another time, a man approached Jesus and expressed his desire to become one of his disciples…after his father died. How could anyone criticize the devotion of this man? But Jesus responded by saying “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:21-22).
One day, while preaching in the synagogue on a Sabbath, Jesus saw a man sitting in the crowd and noticed he had a withered hand. “Stand up,” he said to the man. Now, one of the Ten Commandments charges us with keeping the Sabbath holy by refraining from work. While Scripture didn’t specifically define healing as work, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law in Jesus’ day did.
“Stretch out your hand,” he commanded the man. Then Jesus healed him. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were incredulous.
We won’t even go into the fiasco when Jesus cleared the moneychangers from the temple courts.
Like I said, Jesus wasn’t intent on winning any popularity contests. In fact, his behavior and his claims angered the authorities of his day so much that they nailed him to a cross. The night of his crucifixion, no one came to Jesus’ defense, and he only left behind about 120 followers.
In his book Jesus: Mean and Wild, Mark Galli writes,
The warm and friendly Jesus, although an attractive idea, is but an idol. This Jesus can be stern, confrontational, purposefully confusing and even impatient. He sometimes shames and scares us, but loves us enough to draw us inexorably toward him: For Jesus has come to us, the real Jesus—mean, wild, and pulsing with an unnerving and irresistible love.
…Yet Jesus Was Infinitely Loving
Jesus was a bad-ass and he certainly wasn’t nice. But he was infinitely loving. There’s a difference, you know.
True confession: I’m a nice person. I like it when people like me. All too often I paste a smile on my face and act like my world is just fine, even when it isn’t. At times I try to hard to avoid offending people or sharing my opinions. Sometimes my niceness repulses me.
Being a loving person looks much different. Loving people means being honest. “Speaking the truth in love,” as Paul articulates it (Ephesians 4:15). It means acting in the best interests of others, even if it offends them.
Jesus didn’t pull any punches. He sought to please God rather than the people around him. He offended the religious establishment and hung out with irreligious people. He also healed the sick, forgave the sinner, and ultimately, gave his life so we might live.
I want to be more like Jesus. I want to be loving rather than nice.
Don’t be nice. Be like Jesus.
If you want to read a great article about the real Jesus, click here: Good News: Jesus Is Not Nice
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado. He ate too much Halloween candy this week.
8 responses to “Jesus Was A Bad-Ass”
I’m sure it’s very interesting how each of our lives, thought patterns, and these “blog conversations” intersect, cross-over, and develop over time.
I’m in the middle of a conversation/interaction with a situation/person that I have experienced as a person and a “Christian” and a friend for a rather long period of time. It’s interesting how much we can and cannot tell about others, even when we know them fairly well. Well, I guess, for one thing, most of us are always trying to “put our own best foot forward,” and we also have a very real tendency to “believe our stuff,” believe our “good guy act” (if it is one), and the rest of us like to believe it about ourselves and others too, until….until something starts to wear thin,…needed changes that never happen,…serious recommendations that are never heeded,…our investment as friends begins to feel used, even if we can see that “it” is being done “in blindness,”…hmm,…makes you start to think: “It just might take some confrontative ‘ugliness’/undesired ‘truth-telling’ to bring about what is starting to appear to be a necessary ‘time’s up on the jargon’ (trying to find a ‘nice word’ here) message,…”
Telling the Real Truth is not “pretty” when it is a (valid) spiritual force directed intentionally against firmly-entrenched lies,…any kind of lies, as a matter of fact,…they’re all satan’s work, one way or another, and they’re all bad,…but we’re used to humoring people, cajoling, wishing them well, being “patient,” “having faith,”…and we’re not always sure that our own reactions are all that “pure” either,…so, “Who am I to be casting the first stone?”
The only way this ALL makes Perfect Sense, — (if it’s an “issue to become confused about,” and an “excuse to lose our faith” one more time), — is to realize that God’s realm IS the (only) Perfect Realm. Jesus told His earthly parents that He had to “be about His Father’s business” — His REAL Father’s business. And this not only perplexes many of us earthlings, but it really “hurts our feelings” as well — (but aren’t “I” good enough for you?,…just LOOK at Everything “I” DO for you ALL the time!),…we’re so embarrassingly shallow in our customary personal emotions,…usually.
This is the exact consideration in all these “apparent conflicts” being described. They’re not really “conflicts” at all,…just the plain and simple Truth about both realms. God’s Truth IS Objective, really True, AND really Good,…and our earthly, subjective (personally perceived through those ever-present “dark glasses”), me-centered, truth is fatally flawed and missing many things,…but we still sure-do want use it, all the same, as if valid, for evidence and “proofs” in all of our never-ending arguments and grievances. (Cue: “fist shaking” gesture towards the sky,…)
Yes, God’s business and Truth and Love and purposes are The Real Thing. Our earthly business, truth, love and purposes are not only partial and mostly self-centered — (the what we “see, do, accept and take-for-granted” of earthly everyday life) — but they are also riddled with satan’s deceptive and captive influences. (Of course, he’s not going to reveal himself or this to us, IF he can help it!)
Real Love, in the person of Jesus Christ, living Real Truth, may appear “radical” and very startling to the habituated earthly beings, but it is nothing short of True Sacrificial Love that has come to “set the captives free.” If Jesus’s Truth is offensive to you, you need to seriously re-examine your own perspective, understanding and priorities. This may feel “sad but true,” but it’s really not even sad! It is exactly the key to our Joyful Personally-Liberating Internal Freedom that God has desired for us from the beginning! The prophets function in this realm. The Joy of the Real Truth is such a blessing to the Spirit that prophets will even willingly die for it, rather than compromise the “issues” out of false consideration and “stroking” motives — (that will leave people right where they are, still in more of a mess than they even realize).
In that light, I would have to say that, “‘Bad-Ass’ is in the eye of the Beholder,” just as we say that “beauty” is. In Truth, it all depends on your perspective!
In contemplating the “friend issue” that I alluded to above, and the discomfort that I was feeling about leaning into “one more” rather obvious (“Bad-Ass”) challenge, rather than continuing to tread water in the lukewarm “status quo” condition, — (“see no, hear no, speak no evil,” and “ruffling no feathers” but those of my own “truth-telling” conscience), — I slept on it,…hoping to forget, I think. But when I woke up in the morning, plain as day, I heard “Looking into Satan’s Mirror,”…??? Wondering what that was all about, I remembered that the “the problem” involved some very endemic (and possibly subliminally manipulative and dishonest) Narcissism,…hmmm,…I suddenly saw the relationship between “falling in love with” (and thereby being chained to) a (rather grandiose) reflection of oneself (that satan has somehow provided), and the trance-like and unassailable delusions and strongly-held identities that cult leaders often float around in, and through which they “deceive many.” This can be very “subtle stuff” for the naive and trusting, often very hard to decipher.
Well,…”it ‘splained a lot to me!” however, and I think confirmed my uneasiness as well,…
The relationship between True Prophets and False Prophets is fundamentally War,…and it is not comfortable or pretty or easy to understand at a glance. But the True Uncompromised LOVE of the Holy Spirit underlies the realm of the True Prophets. We need to pray to “see as God sees” and be willing for Him to “open our eyes” and teach us in ways we have not yet learned. We are the contingent beings,…dependent on Him to lead and guide us,…
If we have true Respect for “the Things of God,” we will find this unavoidable situation/condition easier to endure,…and as someone was saying, in the above blog articles, life IS about enduring!
John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
(And,…in many more ways than one!)
God, Respect, Love, Trust, Listen, Serve, Learn, Truth,…these words go well together,…and in them, “I/me” finds its right relationship (and it’s NOT the “limelight!”) to it all. In God, we find Life and Righteousness and Peace. Any other “false messages” that would tend to lead us astray, are simply “infected” and being used to entrap our consciousness, or to entice us away from our true identity and true freedom “in God.” (No one has ever said that we are under obligation to invite the devil into our living rooms and “process” his drivel as if it’s worthy input into our lives, but we do it anyway, in many forms. That’s just how pervasive his influence has become. At best, he’s a time-waster, and surely he delights in “messing with” with our minds,…but he can also do much worse damage,…)
Sez Grandma: “It’s quite all right to be a ‘Bad-Ass’ to the devil & his greedy/slovenly cohorts,…Go ahead!,…Kick him in the shins with a thousand Bible quotes!,…(and while you’re at it, you might just as well enjoy it, too!)”
(Psst!,…Listen to Grandma!,…Grandma “Knows!”,…(haha),…”Trust me!”,…No!,…Don’t trust anyone!,…Read your Bible!,..You’ll be very glad you did!,…Because God IS Good!,…Amen!,…over and out!,…)
edit: please insert “personally honest” after “naive” in the following phrase:
This can be very “subtle stuff” for the naive and trusting,
This can be very “subtle stuff” for the naive, personally honest, and trusting,
Personally honest folks often have a real hard time learning “to read” the devil,…
Maybe a little bit more on “satan’s mirror,”…as I have been reflecting — (inadvertent pun) — on it:
As I see it, we face a definite challenge in life to “see”/discern what we like to call “God’s will” for our lives. His Word, of course, is an excellent and very useful reflection for us of how the things that we do and experience in “life,” either do or do not correspond well with His Will. Sometimes “His Will” seems unattainable, or we feel that we are drowning in a vast sea of generalized resistance and concerted disobedience. “What comes naturally” is also an issue, as well as “how we really feel about things.” The resulting mish-mash can easily become complicated and confusing, as we have strong inborn “flesh” tendencies “to walk by sight and not by faith.”
One of the very strong influences affecting us is this “satan’s mirror” effect. In our external earthly environment, we are surrounded by myriad “sights and sounds,” many of which are very suggestive and compelling. The clear, exquisite and simple chirping of a bird during a special time of day, may lead us into transcendent thoughts of God’s blessing and awe-inspiring Creation. But on the other hand, many of the man-made stimuli are deliberately calculated to lead us very far astray. There is also a sort of gray area of common ground where the attitudes, opinions and expectations of “others” are learned and processed and responded to in various ways.
The “images” foisted on us socially as “desirable,” also by advertising and fashion and “entertainment” industries, bring out the copy-cat instinct within us, as do the habits and strong conforming expectations of our peers. A large percentage of these influences may well be classifiable as part of “satan’s mirror” trying to attract us, if they flaunt God’s expressed Will (in His Word). But most of us have felt how easily our attention is grabbed and drawn into this “play,” as we sit passively absorbing most everything that is thrown at us. How many seriously question what is happening in this process, especially as it is happening? So, our social experiences form a large generalized portion of “satan’s mirror,” not that it’s “all bad,” but that mix forms the crux of the problem — sorting it all out. In any case, we know that we are easily “attracted” (or distracted) into the realm of this “mirror.”
So then, what is it that we are NOT paying attention to, if we are going headlong, (and cooperating “whole hog, including the postage”), into the superficial social whirl? What are we leaving behind? Perhaps we are losing touch with “our more real and essential selves,” or “the still, small voice,” or our more honest thoughts and opinions. Are we losing respect for a very important part of ourselves, our integrity, our vitality, our individuality? Are these the things that we will discover/rediscover in returning to prayer and the true mirror of God’s Word — who He tells us we are? — who He has designed us to be? Is this what “purity” implies?
2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Generalized-satan, inextricably interwoven with the fabric of our daily and earthly lives, and basically “inescapable” at some level, also plays “dirtier pool.” Being “oblivious” to this is not really any kind of safety net or good position to be in, neither will it provide protection for our souls and hearts and minds. Who knows the whys and wherefores of how some are/(have been) pulled more closely into his orbit, but those who are, may or may not even realize to what extent they have been affected/infected. But such as these form a more dangerous and insidious portion of “satan’s mirror,” trying to pull us in as well, or trying to feed off of our naivete, trust and goodwill. Those who “serve satan” in some way, become very empty and hungry for “soul food” themselves,…losing game that it always is. Best remedy is to “recognize it” and move far away,…[the greater the distance between a magnet and a simple nail, provides many benefits for the nail,…(a “word to the wise”) …]
“Satan’s (illusory and contrived) mirror” tempts us to join “the fun and games,” promises success and excitement, claims “to be ultimate coolness,” superior in many ways,…but ultimately wounds and disappoints.
Like “fun house mirrors,” satan’s mirror unfailingly lies. It makes us (and “things”) look more amazing and fantastic than we really are,…but in such a way that these distortions appeal to us and to our shallow and hollow vanities. We may become addicted to the flattering “suggestions.” But as our pride swells, our soul will shrink, hurt, becoming embittered and miserable. And for such as these, Christ has come to the rescue,…”to set the captives free.”
As for me, I have learned to trust and value the true mirror of God’s Word.
Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
More from Joshua:
Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Very apropos. In the midst of all the options and “attractions” we call “life,” we are given authority over the way we use and direct our “attention.” What we “pay attention” to, focus on, will have a strong effect on our “results” and outcomes. In fact, what we focus on, seriously/diligently, has the ability to transform us into its own likeness, for good or ill.
Choosing to focus on our false image created by satan’s mirrors and his lying servants, buying into his “come-ons” and deceptive flattery, will hook us into a psychological path of “needy” dependency, leading to a slippery-slope of inevitable weakness and downfall. But making the sincere efforts to identify and shun the false mirrors, and turning instead to “meditate” on God’s revealed Truth (His Word), will strengthen and confirm our identity as beloved sons and daughters, servants, and friends of God. There is a world of difference between the two options!
14 ” … the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; THEREFORE CHOOSE LIFE, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
24 “’Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “’But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.’
28 “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
Well, I guess the Word of God is pretty “Bad-Ass” too. Seems to run in the family!
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
2 Corinthians 13:1 “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
You can’t fool God.
So, here was my potential “epitaph” for the questionable-ness of the situation: “EITHER, Jesus IS enough for us — OR, He isn’t. And when He isn’t — (when our own truth is that He really doesn’t “satisfy our soul”) — that’s when a lot of other troubles can begin to compete for a (strong)hold on our lives,…
From God’s point of view, the Reality that He offers us is more simple and clear than the realities we often choose to live in. And yet, we can be so stubbornly belligerent and self-righteous and self-justifying about the choices we feel compelled and entitled to make, blaming God or others for the poor results we reap.
Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! “
Not to abandon this on a sad note: Contemplating our choice of types of “looking glasses” that we can direct our attentive gaze upon, I saw “Praise and Worship” in the Church services in a very important way, today. Now, I’ve had all kinds of “positive feelings” about Praise and Worship over the years, and I’ve been taught concepts about how we “enter in” and so on. Quite obviously, it’s a huge blessing, and connects us on many levels with an atmosphere that brings us closer to God. We rejoice, we praise, we worship, and God meets with us. And we really can’t ever describe it fully!
But as I was thinking about how, day by day, we are continually challenged with all the “things” that want to pull us away from God, I could see that our services call our attention away from all that and clearly re-aim us, facing us towards the wonderful Reality of God, directing our thoughts, lifting our hearts, putting God first and foremost, and they are exactly counteracting the drudge and lies that align themselves to weigh us down, challenging our faith daily. This is such an essential blessing for us! It’s not that I haven’t “known” this already, but I think I’m seeing even a bit more clearly. We take so much for granted! We think it’s all so very nice and special, but God knows what we NEED.
John the Baptist speaking: John 3:29-36
29 ” … Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Here’s another interesting (to me) twist on “putting our best foot forward.” For many of us this is what we usually try to do when interacting with others. And we do it even more,…(perhaps over-doing it!),…(say, like),…on a job interview. We have learned ways to act, (“acting” being the problem), that have “worked” for us before, garnered approval, etc.. Sometimes we think this means being “cool” to appeal to a certain sub-group, whose opinions we have elevated above what we otherwise consider to be mediocre and “run of the mill.”
I noted before that we all sort of do this, and expect similar consideration from others. There is an element of respect involved, which is usually a pretty good thing. Polite is fine, clean is good, presentable works. But established expectations can also exert on us the force of conformity, limiting our expressive actions to an accepted, scripted, locally personality-conforming repertoire. When this hinders (and it often does) our freedom “in God” (as when Jesus healed on the Sabbath) it becomes the opposite of a good thing. How we relate to and handle all this, presents us with very interesting situations and problems.
One problem becomes our resistance to “breaking the common mold,” even when we possibly should. We fear the negative reactions of others, and so do nothing out of the ordinary. But there is a genuine part of ourselves, perhaps a God-gifted part, that remains “hanging in the closet” — unused, undiscovered, unappreciated. This is a sad thing for everyone — not only for our creative, expressive selves, but for those who could have been blessed as well.
There are others who become very adept at presenting “the public face” that “everyone wants to see.” And they can really sell themselves to the crowd. But the problem is that they are not sincere in what they do. They are, in fact, actors all the time. Again something is being left out, but it is a much different kind of thing. These are the people that the “personally honest” often have a very hard time “reading” and understanding. The honest person projects his/her straight-forward way of thinking onto the actor, and the actor immediately accepts this “approval,” (the faith that “trusting others” have invested in him/her), and seems to cater even more to their expectations with the illusions being put forward. This may be the stuff that the proverbial “tangled webs” are woven from. Jesus says,
Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
He is advocating having clear insight into the deceivers while maintaining our own personal innocence, not to be “taken in.”
So, there is always more to a person, to a situation, to “motives of the heart” than we can see and understand at first glance. In fact God tells us only he can fully see and judge the heart. I think I’m realizing something about the “hidden man of the heart” (mentioned in 1 Peter 3:4) that may become an interesting way to pray about things.
What we see of others may be very much like the “tip of an iceberg,” with so much more going on than meets the eye. For our own selves, we can pray for greater sincerity and wisdom and ability to express what God has given us. In our relationships with others, praying and giving the benefit of the doubt reflects our Christian generosity, but there may also appear “red flags” that we would do well to take note of and consider seriously.