During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
Give Me the Real Jesus, Please
The great benefit of the internet and social media in times like these is that the Good News is so readily available. We can connect to Hope anytime, anywhere. God’s great Gift of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the Bible is so accessible today.
We may be quarantined but the Gospel is not!
But the internet also poses a great danger – Bad News is also readily available. I don’t mean Bad News like atheism which offers no hope, but leaves you to look for the cure where the problem is – in nature, in yourself.
I mean Bad News dressed up in Christian costume. I mean men and women who talk about Jesus but preach their own fictitious version of Him – a version of Jesus that disagrees with Jesus’ version of Jesus which He wrote down for us in the Bible. I mean motivational speakers who borrow Christian language to sell their self-help message.
Beware of a counterfeit jesus. Beware of the false gospel.
Some preach Jesus as the Medicine Man who will heal you now if you have enough faith, or as the Money Man who will make you rich now if you do the right things. Some present him as a Motivational Mentor, your inspirational life coach who helps you become a better you. Others preach Him as the Immaculate Model for you to follow to get to God.
I’ve even witnessed a he-man version of Jesus – the Muscle Man Jesus, the Tough Guy who doesn’t weaken or weep, but lands a mighty fist on everyone who crosses him.
Now there’s something to each of these. Jesus does heal His followers, not always in this life, but perfectly and always in the life to come. He is pleased to give some of His people wealth so that they may generously serve His kingdom with it. He is the perfect Man of God whose model of living motivates us to walk in His steps, and to fight the good fight of faith. He will punish all who refuse to embrace Him as their Saviour and Lord.
But the problem is that false teachers take a secondary aspect of Jesus’ mission, and then twist Scripture to make it the main thing they preach, so you end up with a counterfeit jesus who can’t save you. That’s what makes it such Bad News. The false jesus they preach is an idol that will destroy you if you believe in it.
This is not the Jesus of the Bible. This is not the Jesus of historic Christianity proclaimed by the apostles of Jesus.
The counterfeiters teach that if you tithe 10% God will make you financially rich, and that your words of faith have power to get from God whatever you ask of Him. But the Jesus of the Bible says that if you follow Him you should expect to suffer for His Name, and be willing to leave everything you own for His sake. When Paul suffered greatly from some affliction, he prayed in faith for God to remove the thorn from his flesh, but Jesus said, No, My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in your weakness. (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)
The false teachers rarely, if ever, talk about sin and repentance, but Jesus said He came to call sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32) They gush feel-good sound-bytes of positivity, but Jesus brought God’s message of truth and mercy. He taught us that every sinner who falls down before God and says, God, be merciful to me, a sinner (Luke 18:13) will be lifted up.
He didn’t come to improve you, but to make a new you, so that you die to yourself and become a new person in Christ. Our greatest need is not a good Model to follow, but a Mediator who will take our judgment and die in our place because we are too sinful to follow a good Model.
Give me the real Jesus, please!
The real Jesus is the Merciful Mediator who gave His life as a payment and punishment for sin. Just before Jesus entered this world as a newborn baby, an angel told Joseph: You shall give Him the name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) That’s His name. That’s His mission. That’s His message.
If you trust in Him to rescue you from your wickedness as a sinner, Jesus will give you a salvation that is far better than anything this world and its wealth and health can ever give. He will give you an eternal life with God that is full of joy, strength and glory.
In this world you will have suffering when you follow Jesus, but the life to come will be Paradise with God.
So as you look for hope online, beware of the counterfeit Jesus, and be sure to connect to the message of the Merciful Mediator who bore our sins in His body on the tree to save us from God’s eternal wrath and to bring us into God’s eternal love.