Todd White will often say “if you squeeze an orange you would expect orange juice. So if you squeeze a Christian you would expect Christ to come out.” I may have the words a little off but the concept is right. When you squeeze someone who says they believe in Jesus you would expect Jesus to come out. In the times I have heard Todd use this metaphor he was often referring to “offenses.” When we are pressured or attacked or full-on smacked by people, life, circumstance or whatever, we should look like Jesus in our response. Where is Jesus most like Jesus? On the cross. What does that Jesus look like? “Beat me, whip me, kill me and I forgive you.” The cross is the perfect expression of a loving God. The cross is exactly what God looks like in His mercy and love and forgiveness. The cross is also exactly what God looks like in His judgment, wrath, punishment and correction. The revelation of the cross has the power to change everything:
1 Cor 1:18 The message of the crucifixion is insanity to the lost, but to those of us who have life it is the power of God. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
God has given me these amazing freebies. Lately I am getting “squeezed” a bit and am learning what it looks like to let Jesus out instead of something else. God made me with passion and drive. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am very intense. That is a good thing when the enemy is attacking. It does however come with a temporal trap of impatience. From a human perspective time is very important so immediate response to intense input is the human-derived expected outcome. God however is eternal, timeless, forever and instantaneous. He has all those time elements but I am more aware of ticking clocks than timeless eons. So when I get squeezed I seek Him for patience. I really want my results right now but I have faith and trust in a loving God who actually has the best plan for me in mind. So in this season He is teaching me how to respond. I call them freebies because the impact zone of my inappropriate responses is limited to myself and my close friends. We get to process together and listen to Jesus tell us what He would do. It can feel like an industrial kitchen juicer but praise Jesus, He is finding His way out instead of my impatient insistence on immediate results.
Want to share in a freebie? It is so simple but so paramount to everything Jesus is about. OK, I’ll be brief.
The further I travel down this road of revelation the more I am “seeing” that Jesus came to replace one thing with another. He came to set us free to “see” something differently than we did before. He came to transform something from one thing to another. He came to give us the capacity to understand something that we couldn’t understand before. He came to bring a relationship that just wasn’t possible before. In a nutshell He came to reveal God and give us the opportunity to know Him as He is. The replacement part of the story is we humans have to shed our bonds of religion and fallen-nature insistence on human judgment to step into the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus walked on the Earth the “type” to be replaced was the religion of the Jews. We see Jesus challenging them to step out of their religious idolatry and step into a righteous relationship. It all comes through faith. It is a faith in the character and nature of our Father not a false faith of knowledge and exposition. Faith is in a person not a concept. Jesus challenged them to a new way of seeing God. He absolutely presented an image of God and the Messiah that was counter to their tradition and understanding. He reshaped what they thought God’s love looked like and replaced one concept with another. He took away guilt and shame and condemnation and replaced them with acceptance and sonship. He took away the insistence on violence and human perspectives of vengeance and replace the false understanding with the self-sacrificial love of God on a cross. He changed everything.
What I am finding is the more I “illuminate” these truths of who God really is the more “religion” comes knocking at the door. Just like the Pharisees 2000 years ago, the insistence on an angry wrathful God is still there. Exclusion is the norm when Jesus makes inclusion a command. Division is a tool where Jesus showed us acceptance as a norm. Jesus lets mankind kill Him on a cross to demonstrate how far God will go so we will know we are forgiven. Or modern religious bondage in the west insists on an angry God who must use child sacrifice to get us to heaven when the cross is actually God showing us who He is. I know this penal concept is so ingrained in our thinking that our first reaction is “blasphemy!” but you know the Jewish faith was around for a really long time before Jesus and they called Him blasphemer. Jesus came to set us free from idolatrous religion and instead give us intimate relationship. There is a time and a place for the Law, no doubt. Even today when chaos is reigning and destruction is common then the Law will curtail stupidity. It isn’t a substitute for a relationship with Jesus. It isn’t a precursor to a relationship with Jesus. It isn’t a requirement for a relationship with Jesus. And it is definitely not an HD image of the nature of God. Jesus in that image. Jesus is the perfect revelation of who God really is.
Let me leave you with a few verses to chew on. In this first passage the Jewish leaders were really angry that Jesus was telling them He was the image of God and “re-interpreting” the Law. They expected a vengeful, angry, blood spilling Messiah to rescue them from oppression and domination. Instead they got enemy-love, acceptance of the unacceptable and inclusion of their enemy. It really made them mad (just like it does the religious today).
John 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (ESV)
Remember Jesus said that eternal life is that we would know the one true God. Jesus reveals the one true God. So often I find that people schooled in religious tradition and doctrine will accept the words of their commentary over the words of Jesus. They will mash together an ancient perspective of God with a perfect revelation of Jesus on the cross. Jesus says that we prefer “glory” from one another when we should be seeking the “glory” (the goodness of God manifest) from God. Jesus resurrected is the glory of God in a form we can see. Jesus on the cross is the power of God to not hurt us when we should be annihilated. Jesus resurrected is the goodness of God to inhabit this simple, misguided, mistake-motivated, temple of His…me and you.
So let me leave you with a glimpse of Jesus juice so when you are squeezed by the religious fear propagators you know what it looks like.
Matt 26:59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (ESV)
When I talk about the goodness of God, the amazing beauty of our Father, the loving kindness of a God who comes to earth – lets us kill Him – doesn’t raise a finger in defense, forgives us unequivocally, loves us unconditionally, saves us from our fallen nature, loves us into relationship, proves He is trustworthy, insists on our deliverance from ourselves, defeats the works of the devil, rescues us from our insistence on destructive behavior and more and more and more…when I talk this way I get accused of “wanting to destroy the temple.” OK, you caught me. That is God’s plan and I agree with His plan. My response is like Jesus. Judgment is coming. It looks like a cross. It looks like a resurrection. It looks like being filled with the Holy Spirit.
You get to choose. Do you want to be the younger brother in the prodigal story? Do you want to celebrate with Jesus? Or do you want to be the older brother angry and insistent on his way? Jesus sets us free so we can be free indeed.
Oh yeah…the freebie. I got squeezed and what you are reading is what came out. He gave me the verses. He gave me the peace. He wants us all to know that He really is that good.