NathanCherry

Are You Sure You Want Christians to “Be More Like Jesus”?

Posted on August 22, 2018 in Theology by

Jesus CakeThe demand for Christians to “be more like Jesus” continues. But the people making this demand don’t know Jesus and are often making this demand of people who are, in fact, being just like Jesus.

Our culture has a “judge not” blind spot. We love this simple instruction given by Jesus. This is, according to society, the true test of whether a person is really being like Jesus or not. If you “judge” another person, you fail the test. So the goal is to be as much like Jesus as possible by not judging anyone. Ever. For any reason.

But is that really the measure of Christ-likeness?

The people who say Jesus would “bake the cake” sure think so. They believe that Jesus would absolutely bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. It is, they say, a way to “show the love of Jesus” to the homosexual couple. To refuse to bake the cake is to judge the homosexuals and is wrong, they would argue, because Jesus would never judge anyone like that.

First, let’s make sure we understand what Jesus meant by “judge not,” in this often misused Scripture.

In Matthew 7, Jesus indeed says “judge not, lest ye be judged.” But a careful exposition of this passage reveals that Jesus was not issuing a prohibition on judging, but was instead issuing a warning on howwe judge others. Jesus made this clear when he went on to say:

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:2-4)

Jesus wanted us to understand that the measure we use to judge others will be used on us. His words were a caution against how we judge others in light of the fact that we would similarly be judged. The idea that Jesus was telling Christians never to judge fails a simple test of biblical scrutiny. Let’s consider some of the instances when Jesus Himself judged people:

Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery to “sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Jesus points out the sin of the woman at the well (John 4)
Jesus points out the sins, “which are many,” of the prostitute washing his feet. (Luke 7:36-50)

These are just a few instances where Jesus “judged” that people had committed sin and clearly called them to stop sinning. Was Jesus being a hypocrite for telling people not to judge and then judging people Himself? Of course not. In fact, Jesus was showing us exactly how to judge other people.

The example that Jesus gave us to show each person the respect and dignity they deserve. As image bearers of God, every human should be treated with dignity and respect. This, however, does not mean every idea or thought people espouse must be supported. Disagreeing with a person’s view of sexuality does not mean I hate the person. Just as Jesus lovingly called people to repent of their sins, so too must every Christian be faithful to lovingly call people to repent of their sin.

The idea that Jesus would take part in celebrating sin is absurd. In no way did Jesus condone sin, and He certainly never celebrated or supported sin. At every point when Jesus was confronted with a persons sin, He always called the person to repent and turn from their sin. For this reason it is easy to conclude that Jesus would not bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.

I found this article on the topic helpful. The three reasons why Jesus would not bake the cake presented in this article point to the faithful witness of Scripture as it relates the message of the Gospel and the teachings of Christ. Using the evidence in the article I would suggest that not only would Jesus not bake the cake, but that Hecouldn’tbake the cake. Doing so would make Jesus a proponent of sin, which would in itself be sin.

Kevin DeYoung argues that the rebuke of Jesus in the book of Revelation makes clear that bowing to the culture where it deviates from biblical principles is not pleasing to Christ. DeYoung concludes by stating that “maybe Jesus wouldn’t bake that cake after-all.”

Recent  video has J.D. Greear teaching that Jesus commands Christians to judge. Greear explains that proper, biblical judging has to do with what you say, and what you do after you’ve shared the truth with someone. Greear explains:

“Judging in the Bible, has more to do with what you do after you tell the truth. It’s not whether you tell the truth, it’s what you do next. Jesus, after He told the truth, brought people close. He didn’t push them away.”

That is, perhaps, the most succinctly accurate way to describe the teaching of Jesus, as seen in His example, of how to biblical judge. To ignore the sin of others is to communicate that we do not love them. Failing to call sinners to repent through a clear presentation of the Gospel is failing to love. To love sinners, like Jesus, we must call them to repent.

Christians are indeed directed to judge. But we are to judge biblically. We do this by loving people enough to call them to repent of their sin and then loving them as they walk through that process. I agree that we need more Christians willing to “be like Jesus.” Not the world’s idea of Jesus, but the Jesus of Scripture that loved people enough to call them to repent.

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