The Other Jesus


…but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
—Luke 13:3b

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
—John 15:9

Who is the other Jesus? He’s the one we’re not worshiping.

Consider the two verses above. To some, they appear to reflect two different Jesuses: the Drill Sergeant Jesus and the Flower Child Jesus. The first Jesus will return to slay His enemies with the sword that comes out of His mouth. The Other JesusThe second Jesus encounters a bruised reed and will not break it, a smoldering wick and will not quench it.

We find the follower of the Drill Sergeant Jesus out on the street corner with a bullhorn, preaching hellfire and damnation. Such a follower is the hardcore evangelist depicted in the classic joke that ends with the punchline, “So, what’s the bad news?”

We find the follower of the Flower Child Jesus in a small group, hugging people and weeping, wondering aloud if it ever gets better than this. Because right now, right here, with these beautiful people, it’s heaven.

But no half-Jesus exists. Honestly, the Drill Sergeant Jesus follower and the Flower Child Jesus follower exist as caricatures of real Christians. Let’s get real, though; in many cases, American Christian theology and practice fall readily into one of those two camps.

You can explain nearly every deviant view of Christ in the American Church by how great a percentage we practice one idea of Jesus over the other. Unfortunately, if we’re not looking at the whole truth of who Jesus is, we’re missing the real Christ.

And it’s not just Jesus who suffers from our schizophrenic approach. We make God the Father out to be the Vengeful God of Law and Wrath vs. the Gentle God Who Desires We Call Him “Abba.” The Holy Spirit suffers even more. He’s the Giver of Gifts Like Administration or He’s the Giver of Gifts Like Tongues. Over there He’s the Inspirer of Scriptures set against the Inspirer of Contemporary Prophecy. And in that corner He’s…

All these divisions commit violence against the character of the Triune God, yet we witness these extremes daily within the modern American Church. We talk a great deal about worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, but it seems to me that these attempts at fracturing Him into whatever modality best serves us, rather than Him, mangles all attempts at truthful worshiping.

Remember, He is the Alpha AND Omega—and every letter in-between.

{Image: Top—Artist unknown. Bottom—Rembrandt, Christ Driving the Money Changers From the Temple, 1626}

11 thoughts on “The Other Jesus

  1. Good post. Our tendency is to go to extremes, when I find faith to be that point where we have to admit both cases are true. If God were that cut and dry I don’t think faith would be necessary. The worst injustice done to our understanding of God is when we refer to the Holy Spirit as “it.”

    • Isn’t the use of “it” more of a reflection on the inadequacy of the English language in that it does not have a gender-neutral pronoun? Which gives me a better understanding of God — thinking of the Holy Spirit as a man or a woman?

      I do agree with “faith [is] that point where we have to admit both cases are true” although I would say it’s more of a spectrum, i.e. the full range from one to the other. There are more colors than just black and white.

  2. Luke 17:3
    Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him

    Dan, I’d be interested in your take on this verse. Is this saying that we are not obligated to forgive someone who sins against us unless they repent? I can see reasons both for and against this concept.

    • Doug,

      I’ve long been in the camp that believes that unless forgiveness is sought, it cannot be actively given to another. If a person has wronged me, I cannot grant full forgiveness to that person unless they seek forgiveness from me. I can choose to offer forgiveness, but it cannot be received.

      Right now, I’m waffling in that position, though—one of a half-dozen I’m re-evaluating. I may stick with it, or I may not. So I can’t give you an answer that’s entirely satisfying.

      • One of the toughies…Jesus forgives all, but we are not saved unless we repent…I think one has to take the whole verse: Rebuke, and if the person takes the rebuke and is repentant, then forgiveness is required. I think we fall down in both areas: We do not rebuke, and so sin continues, when sin is uncovered, we are not truly repentant, and when we are, there is no forgiveness. It becomes a grinding wheel, shattering the kernels of our lives, and making us worthless as seeds. It’s no wonder we are unable to understand the Christ that is both prophet and priest; uncovering sin and forgiving it, when what has been modelled is so destructive.

  3. Marta Odum

    That’s one of the things I truly enjoy about being Apostolic. We believe in one God. He is Alpha, Omega, He is All, He is Father, He is Son, He is Holy Ghost. He is referred to by many names, but they all are one God, Jesus Christ. We don’t believe in the Trinity. So we never split Him up that way. As far as Jesus the Drill Sergeant/Flower Child, we believe that Jesus is all things but evil. He chastens those He loves-out of love.
    I grew up in and out of the Baptist church, and even taught Vacation Bible School in the summer, yet I always found all the different gods(Trinity) confusing. When I was truly saved it was so clear! Now I only worship God, I simply serve God. I pray to Him (one Him).
    Great, thought-provoking post as always! God Bless.

    • Marta,

      In all honesty, I do not support a oneness position. I believe the Bible makes it exceedingly plain that God exists as a trinity. God is not modal, but exists in three full, distinct persons joined in perfect union. To worship God in Spirit and in Truth, we must be clear on the basics of His nature or else we’re not worshiping Him aright.

      Though I attend a pentecostal church, I firmly oppose Oneness Pentecostal teachings, especially those coming out of T.D. Jakes’s organization. I believe they are leading the Church astray.

      If anything, at least as this post addresses, a oneness position can only further cloud the waters of understanding the nature of God—and our likeness made in His image (since I support a tri-partite understanding of the nature of Man, too). I’ve read oneness material and it does backflips trying to explain away the Trinity. Yet the Trinity is so easy to comprehend, and the only means by we which we can truly comprehend God.

      We will have to disagree on this. James White’s The Forgotten Trinity is an outstanding resource that I would recommend reading.

      If you wish to discuss this more, drop me a line.

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