First off, I’m a Christian.
I’ve been reading the Bible since I was a kid. I’ve been trying to follow Jesus for almost 20 years. I think the Bible is the best explanation for my experience around the world, for how humans are and how to address that. We’ve recently written a book full of stories of how we’ve tried to follow Jesus overseas and now back in the U.S.
Nonetheless, there are three things that I hate about Jesus. We Christians are sometimes not honest about the hard things, the things we don’t appreciate about our King. And by stuffing these thoughts, we end up faking it, which leads to being less than honest with ourselves, each other, and God.
1. I hate that Jesus makes us put up with all sorts.
There’s this passage in the Bible (in Matthew 13) where Jesus talks about a farmer who plants wheat seeds in a field. But his enemy also comes and plants weed seeds. The farmer’s servants see the weeds and ask if they should pull them up. The farmer says no:
“While you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.”
Jesus goes on to explain that in the parable, He’s the farmer, the wheat represents people of His Kingdom, the enemy is the Devil and the weeds are people of “the evil one.”
What all this means is that in any given church, there’s probably going to be some weeds, some cranks, some people who aren’t really on board who make it hard for the wheat to grow.
I hate that Jesus allows this. Even “wheaty” people (and I pray that I’m one) have a hard time loving one another, bringing good news to others, working for justice and not being hypocritical. It’s only by God’s grace that any of it ever happens. But these “weedy” folks are often the worst (and often loudest), making all Christians look bad.
I wish Jesus had just given the disciples a standardized test to determine who was a wheat and who was a weed.
2. I hate that Jesus is so exclusive.
While anyone can follow Jesus, it’s on His terms. Jesus didn’t leave any room to call Him a “good teacher” or “a spiritual guide.” He said He was the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Light of the world, the Narrow Gate, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth and the Life (and that’s just in the book of John).
There is right and wrong. Something is true or it’s not. I can’t pick and choose what I want to believe or what I like from Jesus or the Bible. It’s a package deal. This leads to some unpopular commitments.
There are plenty of times when it’d be so much easier to just say to myself and everybody around, “Let’s all just do what we feel is right for ourselves.” I think how we use our money is incredibly important, but I’d rather not challenge someone about their selfish spending habits. I am deeply concerned about abortion, but I’d rather not tell a woman what to do with her body. I struggle with my own gluttony, but I don’t want to ask a friend if he’s honoring God with his body.
I hate that I can’t just pick and choose the teachings I want from this Jesus fellow and apply them when I feel like it. It’s not a buffet, and I need to stick to the menu that was laid out a couple thousand years ago, no matter if I (or the people around me) would really prefer something else.
3. I hate that Jesus demands my whole life.
I would much prefer to carry on with my own ideas, my own ways, my own plans. Maybe work out a 50/50 ownership plan where Jesus and I each get equal voting rights over what I get to do in life. I would prefer “consensus,” but instead the system is “Lordship,” and Jesus holds all the chips.
Jesus said if I’m going to follow Him, I have to give up everything I have (Luke 14:33). He said that I have to deny myself, take up my cross (an implement of my own painful death) every day and then follow Him (Luke 9:23). Jesus must become greater, and I must become less (John 3:30).
Jesus was very clear that I am the problem (and so are you and everybody). I hate this.
I need Jesus. He’s the answer to the problem at my selfish core and to humanity’s central problem. We all fall short of perfection, and we need help to be pure, personally and collectively. And if Jesus’ help is disregarded, there is unfathomable wrath—what is called hell.
Sheesh. I don’t like that very much, either.
The Jeskes have lived lots of amazing days in Nicaragua, China, South Africa, and the U.S. The latest book is This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling. @ChristineJeske is getting a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, and @AdamJeske leads social media for InterVarsity and the Urbana Student Missions Conference. Connect at Into the Mud and Executing Ideas.