Jesus vs “Jesus”

I recently was invited to a lunch meeting of a local Christian Business group. This particular event was held at a local restaurant where we listened to an itinerant pastor. This was an interesting event because this pastor died for seven days and visited Heaven before being sent back to his body. Not every day you get to hear someone claim that.

After listening to him I just felt disgusted. All he kept saying was essentially that if you have faith in Jesus he’ll give you wealth and health, if you have faith you’ll be blessed with money, that same old tired teaching that faith leads to health and wealth. I mean how do we keep teaching this? Point to one disciple of Jesus in the first century that experienced wealth or didn’t experience death in the most horrible fashion for what they taught.

To his followers, my Jesus promised pain, he promised to his followers that they would be humiliated and made fun of for their faith, that some of his followers would suffer and die poor and in pain. Christians are not supposed to live for wealth! Christians are supposed to live for God, love him and others and for that they will be and are persecuted and killed.

Today I’m studying Jude and in verse eight it says “yet in like manner” to fallen Angels, Sodom and Gomorrah and the Egyptians,  “these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious on (Jesus Christ).”  It made me think about this false teacher, this false prophet. This “Preacher” His claim to authority is an experience where he met with Jesus, a “dream” that in of itself could be a claim to authority, that’s what happened to Saul who became Paul after an amazing experience of meeting the risen Christ.

But, do we rely on someone’s visions simply because they declare it? NO. We check it against scripture, against truth, against the word of God written down by faithful witnesses who knew Jesus, walked with Jesus and talked with Jesus. Even Paul after meeting the resurrected Jesus Christ went to Peter the chief Apostle and made sure he checked his understanding about who Jesus was before heading out to teach. Like the ungodly in Jude we don’t let people teach from their dreams simply because they had them, they have to be in line with who Jesus actually is.

This preacher I heard claims to have spoken to Christ yet all I hear is a false teaching, that if you have sorrow and debt, high blood pressure and sickness you lack faith. It’s just health and wealth theology which doesn’t line up with scripture at all. So if this man doesn’t teach the same Jesus than what “Jesus” did he meet?  Maybe he’s just lying and never had this transcendent experience, which I am inclined to believe he didn’t, but if he did die and rise again, If this is the message of that “Jesus”, than I am more inclined to believe he met a demon speaking a false Gospel.

I don’t want to be quick to dismiss someone’s experience, although that is how I’m naturally inclined, but I do want to be devoted to checking if it’s true. How do we do that? Same way Paul did, check with the witnesses, the Bible, and see if what they are teaching is right. I could pull a verse here and there and justify any number of evil and disgusting things that mankind now blames God and Christianity for.  Whether it’s the Inquisition, the Crusades, slavery, Holocaust, whatever it is we can justify it by claiming “I had a vision, I read a verse out of context, I had a revelation from God that supersedes what’s written in the Bible.” Whatever it is if it doesn’t line up with the Jesus that is talked about it scripture – ALL of Scripture – then it’s just evil humanity trying to justify evil acts, even if they claim they are Christian.

You see, I am told that my religion has caused every problem with the world, all the wars are caused by my faith and my God. But I tell you this: that all the evil in this world comes from me and you and every other sinner that’s walked this world and the only thing that gives this world hope and redeems anyone is Jesus Christ. Don’t blame him for the evil that man commits. If you are pointing at Jesus I’d point right back at me and you as the problem; if I was allowed to point, my wife tells me I shouldn’t point.  😉

I’m saddend by that teacher, I mean I really feel sad about it, but angry as well because I know that more than a few people in that room agreed with him and believe in that “Jesus” he is preaching and that he is the same one in the Bible, but he’s not. If Jesus is just there to help them gain wealth and health they haven’t met the real Jesus, the offensive Jesus, that tells us all we are sinners, whether we believe it or not, and he’s the only way to be saved. I don’t want anyone to go to hell, I want everyone to meet the real Jesus, the one that lived a sinless life that we couldn’t live and died the death on the cross to us from going to hell all because he loves us.

John’s Gospel: Spoiler Alert

Have you ever read a book where they tell you the big secret right at the beginning of the book and then spend the rest of the book laying it out for you?

In John’s Gospel, the apostle John, a close friend of Jesus and one of the people who knew him best writes some pretty crazy stuff about him. It’s pretty crazy because a lot of people today just think Jesus was a good teacher and don’t want anything to do with that born again stuff, but the same guy who is going to tell you what Jesus taught, the same guy who is going to write all those cool things that Jesus said to all those religious guys, who we love to beat on because we like that Jesus would stick it to the “man,” is going to lay out at the very beginning something that might not be very easy for some people to take.

Chapter 1 in John’s gospel starts off by a making a connection back to Genesis, the first book in the bible and he writes this. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1.1-2)  Then in verse three he goes on to talk about creation. “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” What John is saying is that whoever he’s going to call the Word wasn’t only with God but was God and was the one responsible for all of creation. Nobody else is responsible for creation except God.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1.14) The Word came and lived with us, and John is saying I saw it, we saw it. I met him, the Word, and I saw his glory, the son of God. He’s talking about Jesus that teacher that we like to hear about when he is saying things like love your neighbour and feeding lots of people but who we don’t really want to kneel down and worship or call God.

You see we can’t just take the gospels and say wow look at Jesus’ cool radical and new ideas about love, kindness, mercy and grace, without taking everything else the Gospel writers wrote. Jesus was a real man who really lived and only the craziest and most out to lunch historian will tell you he didn’t live at all. So we go to the writings about him, to his friends and the disciples of his disciples who tell the story of his life. We need to realize that these writers were just as serious about the stuff we might think is crazy as they were about what Jesus taught. For these guys the two are linked and can’t be separated. To John, the guy who sat beside Jesus, talked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, walked with Jesus and recorded all of his teachings wanted you and me to know something, that Jesus is God.

Jesus isn’t a Prophet, he isn’t a teacher, he isn’t a political or social radical, he is God, the king of kings, the creator in who we have life and he is the one who brings light to the darkness.

You see another thing happened in Genesis, we rebelled against God, we became sinners and we brought darkness into the world. This darkness this sin has consumed the world and because of our sin it means we are going to die rebels to God. But what John also wants you to know is that Jesus is the light and that darkness, our sin, isn’t going to overcome him. Jesus goes on to bleed for you, he goes on to die for you!…

Jesus is the light and he overcame sin and now you and I we can get on our knees and apologize to the king of kings for our part, for our sin and Jesus that same king of kings, that same God who was responsible for creating you will forgive you. He’ll forgive you!

That’s crazy! That’s the crazy truth that John wants you to understand about Jesus. If you think you know Jesus and what I’ve written about him doesn’t seem to line up with the Jesus you know then I think you should try and get to know the Jesus John knew. It may be more radical and crazy, but it’s the truth.

(Taken from a community group lesson I’m writing for the church)