Yesterday I was having a conversation with a guy who blogs about Christianity and spirituality. To be honest, he has some very angry and bitter feelings towards Christianity, so most of his writing is why churches, pastors, and Christians in general are doing it wrong. Instead of being like Jesus we’re too focused on preaching at people. Jesus listened and served. He said, “Jesus was called the good shepherd, and shepherds are not preachers.”
While I agree that there are many “preachy” Christians out there who care more about the sound of their voice than the people to whom they speak, this man has really missed the totality of Jesus. Yes, Jesus cared about people. He listened to people. He served people.
Jesus was a really nice guy.
That’s where a lot of people stop.
But Jesus was so much more than that. He cared. In fact, he cared enough to tell people that it was time to change. He was a good man who served others, but he was a preacher as well. Yes, Jesus was called a shepherd. People also called him Rabbi (teacher) because he was known for his speaking.
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)
In the famous story where Jesus prevents an angry crowd from stoning a sinful woman, Jesus doesn’t just come to her rescue – he sends her away saying:
“Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
It seems Jesus was a pretty balanced guy. He believed in serving people. He believed in meeting people where they were and loving them as they were. But that’s only one side, and a one-sided Jesus is an incomplete Jesus.
He also called people to repentance. He called people to change. He called people to faith. A complete picture of Jesus must include BOTH his actions as a servant-leader and his words as a preacher and teacher.
It is this complete Jesus that ministers to us in our brokenness – we are loved as we are and for who we are. But it is this complete Jesus that loves us too much to let us stay the same – he calls us to move on and leave behind our old ways.
Anything less and you’ve only got half the picture. And those who live with half a Jesus focus too much on love and service on one side or repentance and change on the other. Both extremes are inadequate to the rich character of Christ.
Embrace the fullness of Jesus.