Jesus and Popeye

Nobody has had more trouble with identity theft than Jesus.  It’s not that His passport and Social Security number have been swiped.  Instead, people have hijacked His personality.   They’ve redefined Him so He fits with their own ideas about Who He should be and how He should act.  It’s easier to deal with Jesus if you simply consider Him to be a loving friend and not much more.  Jesus isn’t a threat if He only does what you think it is proper for Him to do.  Trouble is, Jesus never did fit the mold for most folks.  He was constantly confusing people and making others angry.  He didn’t act like a proper Savior.

Exasperated, Jesus said:

“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” (Matthew 11:16-19)

People back then wanted Jesus to dance to their own tune.  They wanted Him to act all solemn and religious.  They didn’t think a Savior should eat with the regular folks or have a drink.  People still try to make Jesus behave today!  Why is that?  When we imagine Jesus is like we want Him to be, we can control Him and keep Him at arms length. He’s less of a threat.  But Jesus won’t dance to my tune or yours.

Popeye the Sailor Man says:  “I yam what I yam and tha’s all what I yam.”  Jesus is Who He is, not who you, or I, or anyone else think He should be.  When Moses asked God what His Name was,

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14a)

Jesus boldly asserted that He had the same Name:

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58)

Okay, but so what?  What difference does it make if Jesus won’t conform to our ideas and desires?  The difference is simple but profound.  We must adapt to Who Jesus really is, because we cannot adapt Him to Who we think He should be. We must let Jesus change us, not the other way around.  He becomes more threatening to the way we approach life.  Instead of serving as our imaginary friend and cheerleader, Jesus comes to us as God, as Lord.  You cannot keep a Jesus like that at arm’s length.  If you deal with Him at all, it will be on His terms, not your own.

And Here are Jesus’ terms:  

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

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