“But I say to you that listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” – Luke 6:27-29 (NRSV)
I recently saw a suburban house with curious signage. One sign read: “Jesus is my Savior. Trump is my president.” The sign right next to it had a cartoon kid in a red hat peeing on the name “Pelosi.”
Those folks must have a different Jesus in mind, a savior drastically different from the Jesus quoted in the passage above. For all I know, their alt-Jesus actually said things like: “Despise and humiliate thy enemies by urinating upon them.” This alt-Jesus might also have urged cutting food stamps, gutting affordable healthcare, and carrying an assault rifle.
I have an alt-Jesus too. My alt-Jesus is an introvert, loathes landscaping, prefers beer over wine, gets anxious about every sermon, values physical fitness, digs sci-fi but only if the writing is outstanding, and is oh-so-progressive! Basically, my alt-Jesus is a mirror image of myself.
You might have an alt-Jesus as well, one who affirms your likes and rains holy judgment upon your dislikes. These false, self-congratulating saviors are little more than idols.
Gospel renderings of Jesus are not without bias, but their portraits are closer to the original and far more trustworthy. That Jesus upends our values and overturns our base instincts. I mean, does anyone really want to “love enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you”? Not me. Not my alt-Jesus either.
I’m forever grateful the real Jesus said that about enemies and haters, otherwise there would be no divine love, goodness, blessing, and prayer for me.
Holy One … give me Jesus.