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Dangerous Jesus

In the Middle East these days, we’re appalled by the violence. The beheading of an innocent journalist leaves us shocked – we recoil. We feel threatened. The world feels dangerous. But in a very different way, those of us who seek to follow Jesus are perceived as dangerous. The gospel of g…
By Seth Barnes

In the Middle East these days, we’re appalled by the violence. The beheading of an innocent journalist leaves us shocked – we recoil. We feel threatened. The world feels dangerous.

But in a very different way, those of us who seek to follow Jesus are perceived as dangerous. The gospel of grace Jesus espoused is a threat to those who see jihad as desirable.

Jesus was dangerous in his day and so, he asks us to be in this modern day. We who say we’re followers of Jesus need to understand how dangerous he really was.

From the get-go, he was a threat to everyone who felt safe. He was passionate about setting captives free.  He was unequivocal about the cost of commitment. Early on, he launched his disciples out to do the same thing he did (Luke 9), and he’s asked his followers to launch out in the same way ever since.

Some of us have never taken the time to really study Jesus and see how he walked and wrestle with what that means for us as his followers. We study other things first. We study the Old Testament. We study Paul’s letters. But here’s a thought – as followers of Jesus, shouldn’t we take a closer look at his life?

You’ve probably met him, though it’s likely he didn’t look anything like himself. Here in America, we introduce him as meek and mild. But he was a dangerous man. When he crashed and thundered across the Palestinian landscape, he was nothing if not a threat to the status quo.

People didn’t know what to make of him. Some exclaimed over his authority, others were threatened by it and called it into question.

After being baptized and launching his ministry, he immediately took on the local authorities. In their first meeting, they perceived he was dangerous and tried to kill him (Luke 4). Maybe one reason he went from village to village was that he was not only not welcome in his own village, but many of the others that he visited as well.

So perhaps we should consider the possibility that the hand-me-down religion that many of us were taught in Sunday School looks very little like what he taught his disciples.

Jesus was dangerous, and we are safe. At my local church on Sunday you’ll find four policemen wandering the campus during morning service. They are there just to keep people inside safe.

But are we really safe? As long as we have not met this dangerous Jesus, we can’t be safe. As he spoke to his disciples, he made it clear to them that in this world they would know hardship. In their efforts to love, they would upset apple carts and make enemies.

There are those who have a vested interest in keeping people trapped by their circumstances. And when this dangerous Lord we serve tells us to follow him and set the captives free, we are going to make enemies too.

He described the road his disciples walk as being narrow. He said that not many would follow it. There is a reason for that. We like the safety and comfort that we feel now. We don’t want to put it at risk.

Jesus said that we should be willing to suffer and even to die (Matt. 10). Those are dangerous words. If we say we follow him, then we must be prepared to walk with him into those dangerous places where he promises to give us victory.

We don’t become as dangerous as he is overnight. Jesus took three years with his followers. If it feels hard, it is! Knowing that in advance, we can cut ourselves some slack as we muster up the will and then struggle to stumble along after him.

For most of my Christian life I’ve been trying to understand how he wants us to walk out his dangerous brand of faith in this complicated world. And he constantly challenges me.

As I’ve sensed him challenging me to introduce him to others, I’ve felt uncomfortable – if I’m honest, I’d say something to them like, “Hey, I’d like to introduce you to this guy who wants to turn your world upside down and wreck your life. Interested?”

Of course he does that because he sees the trouble in my heart and wants to bring me peace. But, yeah, it’s gonna hurt a bit.

Have you met this dangerous Jesus? Has he messed with your comfortable world? The price of freedom is to dare to become dangerous as well. To all who would venture to go that way, he promises an abundant life. It seems risky, but it’s the deal he’s put on the table. Why not go for it?

If you’re interested in a study I just wrote of 26 ways that Jesus wants to make us dangerous (called Dangerous Jesus), post a comment or email me. I’ll send the first 50 people who contact me a free copy.

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