There is a statement attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that goes something like this, “Your Jesus I like very much, his followers, not so much”. The statement is often brought up to point out that if followers of Christ would start acting more like Christ then we would have a better reputation and this impact on the world because people would like us too.
Certainly followers of Christ, myself among them, need to do a better job of actually following Jesus and being more like Him. If we did there would undoubtedly be a much more positive impact on the world. I don’t take issue with that. This blog has a goal of getting people to live more like Jesus for that very reason. What I take issue with is the statement Gandhi made about liking Jesus very much. I don’t think liking Jesus is really an option. In fact I am fairly certain that Jesus does not want you to like HIm. To do so completely misses the true nature of who Jesus is and what He has done. Have we really reduced our relationship with Jesus to nothing much more than pressing the like button on Facebook?
Jesus doesn’t want you to like Him. He wants you to either love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength or to be icing cold towards Him. There is no safe middle ground. Don’t think so? Then what are we to make of His words to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16 when Jesus chastises the church for being neither hot or cold but being lukewarm and wanting to spit them out of His mouth. To like Jesus is equivalent to being lukewarm about it. it lacks passion and conviction. Jesus would rather have to deal with the passion of hatred and anger like He did with a young Pharisee named Saul who was persecuting the church than deal with a person who simply likes Him. He would rather have the honesty and passion of Martin Luther who once said, “Love God? Sometimes I hate Him”. Luther knew that sometimes Jesus made claims on our lives that were harsh and difficult, that He could be a demanding Master. Yet he also know that this same Master went to the Cross and suffering horrendously so that we could live. You can’t just like that.
Looking at the life of Jesus in the Gospels it becomes evident that people were either enthralled by Jesus or repulsed by Him. You didn’t stay in the middle for very long. His teaching, his claims of deity, that He would rise from the dead, that He would one day judge the world, these were not the kind of tweets and Facebook posts that warranted a favorite or like button. They either captivated your heart and soul or they repulsed you. To be sure people gathered around Him out of curiosity. Large crowds followed Him and hung on His words. But they also regularly walked away from Him because what He taught them was too radical, too hard, too provocative. At one point nearly everyone walks away saying just that. Only a handful of the closest disciples stuck around out of love for Christ. They were willing to go all in and give up everything for Him. You don’t do that because you like someone. You do that because you love them with all you have and recognize that nothing you have is worth holding on to if it gets in the way of your relationship with Him. It even seems that Jesus deliberately says and does things for the sole purpose of culling the group and sifting out the likers from the lovers.
Jesus’ life and message demand that we go one direction or the other with Him. The middle ground is no-man’s-land. It is a place of bland, lukewarm existence. Either we reject Jesus altogether, or we throw ourselves headlong in love with Him. I do not reject Jesus. I certainly don’t want to like Him. What i want is to throw myself headlong into a deeper and deeper relationship of loving Him and being loved by Him.
To Gandhi’s point, if some of us, even just a few, loved Jesus with a reckless abandon then we would see people become enthralled with Him and love Him. To be sure there will be those who will hate Him and us. Jesus promised as much. But He seems willing to run that risk in order to move people from the deception of a comfort zone of liking Him in order to get them into the wild and exhilarating world of loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
So do I like Jesus? No. But I love Him, more today than yesterday, but not half as much as tomorrow.