why you should never defend Jesus

This is the second part of a reflection on my shifting attitudes on being a passive Christian. You can find part one here.

more like jesus

photo credit: common grace


I first heard the phrase more like Jesus less like jerks following Jarrod Mckenna on Twitter talking about some of the projects he’s involved with. I loved it. It’s brilliant and catchy and poignant.

It also resonated in a way I wish it hadn’t.

It was almost to right, to on point. So much so I wished it wasn’t true. The idea that so often we seem more like jerks than Jesus is a depressing reality to consider.

It’s even worse to see, not just consider.

In a lot of ways I think that’s the second reason I’m far less passive. Not just on the internet, though perhaps most notably there, but in conversations and in groups.

I get frustrated when people are jerks but I am livid when Christians are jerks. You have self proclaimed to know better when you identify as a Christian.

And I’ve written about the many ways we are jerks. When we worry about truth, our rights, our power, it goes on and on.

To me Christian voice is valuable in how well its used to speak with the least of these, the other. Never in defense of self or self-interest. On a wildly related note, we sound like jerks when we defend ourselves and our self-interests. We also sound a whole lot more like Jesus when we defend the poor, the widow, the marginalized and when we choose to listen to the voices we have oppressed for years.

In what should be an obvious reality, we are far better served being Jesus than defending Jesus. Probably because Jesus never defended himself. His truths and love were self-evident. The more I try to live them the more clear how true his teachings and his way are.

I work to never defend Jesus as much as I try to share Jesus. And it’s become more and more important for me to do that.

The more I realized how much I’ve changed, how much more I’ve learned and meet God through these new perspectives I’m exposing myself to, I feel compelled to share them. I want to let them know they exist. I never knew they had anything of value in them.

The more I realized how much of what I accepted as fact was learned history, tradition and culture, I see such a need for others to consider it. To push against what is culture and hope people look at Jesus. To encourage the ruthless self reflection that sees not just the grace we are called to live out despite our deep and obvious brokenness, but the blood on our hands. The influence, power and destruction that is in our history.

The more I’ve realized how privileged it is to not have my personhood, life and beliefs questioned by the church the more I need to share them. To create space and community and resonance with those who didn’t know it was ok believe something different. To be someone different.

In some ways I’m hoping that the people I engage with will hear me. That they are open to a different idea or lens. But just as much I’m hoping people who are outraged, broken and damaged by another posts, tweet, rant that labels, blame and dehumanizes them see that Christ has another way. There are those who love and try to live like Christ who see them as people. Deeply valuable and loved as they are now. That there is space for them in the church.

So more and more I write and speak out and share ideas, often not my own but from those far smarter than I, in defense of the hurting and broken.

It’s my attempt to be like Jesus that drives me to talk about the privilege I have been given as a straight, white, male, Christian and how I need to use and lose that privilege for those I’ve so long been a part of oppressing.

It’s my attempt to be like Jesus’ that drives me to the conversation about not saying Merry Christmas. That it’s my faith and deep love of Jesus that has opened my eyes to see, again, how little I was loving.

It’s my attempt to be like Jesus that drives me to share my position on homosexuality. To make clear to those we’ve pushed the edges, that church is a space for you. We want you and your voice and experience.

It’s my attempt to be like Jesus that drives me to see nuance in the abortion debate and refuse to pick a side because neither side has corned the market on Jesus. No, the debate sounds less and less like Jesus the more it happens.

It’s my attempt to be like Jesus that drives me to lament the way we are living and creating church. To express my pain and struggles because I know I’m not the only one who sees the issues but more desperately needs the church.

It’s not to defend my faith. It’s not to defend Jesus. It’s not to prove that I’m right.

It’s to be more like Jesus.

The idea that I can go through this world and just be a good person isn’t enough. I can’t hold good ideas and it be enough. I can’t believe the right things and it be enough.

Who, if not the people that claim to love all with a reckless and unabated love, will speak out against injustice? Who will stand against fear?

Who will stand with the Muslim community, facing persecution?

Who will stand with the poor, desperate for value?

Who will stand with the communities of colour and ethnicity, fighting for equality?

Jesus would.

Jesus does.

So I’m trying to too.


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