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‘Black Jesus’ and the Measure of One’s Insanity

By Dr. Mark CreechBarbWire guest contributor

Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft once said, “A measure of your insanity is the size of the gap between what you think you are and what you really are.” [1] Certainly this is true. Still, it might also be said that the greatest measure of one’s insanity is the size of the gap between who we think Christ is and who he really is.

No other human being can compare to Christ. Without question, His solitary life altered the entire world. A preacher of yesteryear said the words of Pontius Pilate concerning Christ were “the verdict of the ages.” Pilate said, ‘I find no fault in this just man.’ Who can legitimately find any fault in Jesus?

Nevertheless, human nature is such that we tend to tear down the sublime. For some, the life of Jesus inspires regeneration. It softens. It is the strongest incentive to the highest patterns of virtue. For others, however, the purity of Jesus’ words and actions bring conviction, a revelation of their corruptions. Instead of responding in repentance, they drag His name and person down into the muck of their depravity.

They seek to redefine Him. They cannot fault Him. So rather than be changed by Him, they would change Him. Rather than have His image stamped on their spirits, they would impose their own on His.

There is no better modern example of this phenomenon than “Black Jesus,” the new late night programming on the Cartoon Network, known as Adult Swim. “Black Jesus” portrays Christ as a black man “living in the hood” with a small band of followers. Set in Compton Gardens, Jesus uses profanity – rank profanity. Jesus smokes marijuana and gives away large bottles of malt liquor. There is violence, gunfire, inappropriate gestures. In one show, Jesus’ gang talks him into coming with them on a drug buy. In another scene, Jesus greets a homeless black man on the street who immediately asks him for the winning lotto numbers. When Jesus refuses to provide them, the man curses him. Jesus retaliates by saying the man smells like “a*# and crackers”, and calls him some other coarse names.

Soraya Nadia McDonald’s review in the Washington Post provides a telling statement about the new TV comedy. She says that “like his earthly counterparts, Black Jesus doesn’t have a perfect track record.” If anything, the creators of the program are trying to tell the “audience that if Jesus is just like us, maybe it’s not so much of a stretch for us to be just like him.” [2]

Nevertheless, “Black Jesus” is an extreme example. There are still milder ways Jesus is made to fit the times, or revamped to suit our tastes.

For most, today’s Jesus would never get angry and throw over the money changers’ tables and cleanse the Temple. Instead, today’s Jesus would always be meek and mild, even in the face of gross and flagrant sin. Today’s Jesus would never speak of a place like Hell, for surely God would never send anyone to such a horrible station. Jesus would always speak of peace and love, without emphasizing the importance of holiness and righteousness of life. Today’s Jesus would endorse all religious faiths as equally valid in importance. He would say you can have all you want of this life and still be a part of the next one. Jesus, of course, would never offend anyone.

There is only one problem with today’s Jesus, He’s the one we’ve reinvented to appease us. He’s not the Jesus described in Scripture.

At times, Jesus possessed a righteous indignation toward sin. He actually spoke more about Hell than He did Heaven. He certainly spoke of peace and love, but He also warned that His way would divide even family members. He never said that there were many ways to God. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by me.” Jesus taught that if we wanted to be a part of the next life, we would have to deny ourselves in this life and take up a cross.

The apostle John describes the problem so many have with Jesus. He writes, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). The point of the apostle’s statement is that men and women are so inherently vile that they will do anything to keep another from dissuading them from their sins. They will even reinvent, modify, and alter Jesus Himself, if necessary, to keep from acknowledging their need of His saving power.

John Young, in Christ of History, writes: “How has it come to pass, that of all men He alone has risen to spiritual perfection? What God did for piety and virtue on the earth at one time and in one case, God certainly could have done at other times and in other cases. If Jesus was man only, God could have raised up, in successive ages, many such living examples of sanctified humanity as He was, to correct, instruct, and quicken the world. But he did not.” [3]

Indeed, He did not. There is no one like Jesus. He is the God-man, spotless and without blemish, the Savior of the world and the very Judge of the soul. And there is no greater measure of one’s insanity than the size of the gap between who we may think He is and who Jesus really is.

Resources:

[1] McDowell, Josh, Josh McDowell, and C. S. Lewis. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1999. Pg. 161

[2] “‘Black Jesus’ May Drink, Smoke, and Curse, but He’s Still Messiah-ish.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2014.

[3] McDowell, Josh, Josh McDowell, and C. S. Lewis. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1999. Pg. 316

Dr. Mark Creech is executive director of the Raleigh-based Christian Action League of North Carolina. He served as pastor for six different churches over a twenty year tenure before taking his current position, which he has held since 1999. As a registered lobbyist for the Christian Action League, Dr. Creech represents conservative evangelical churches in the North Carolina General Assembly from 16 denominations in the Tar Heel state. He is also president of the national organization, the American Council on Alcohol Problems.



 

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