To me the name Jesus is not just a good name, it is the “name above every other name” (Philippians 2:9-11). But too many Christians (or at least people who call themselves Christians) are giving Jesus a bad name. That is the conclusion of several recent studies and surveys. People in general are drawn to Jesus, but many of them are put off by the things some Christians do in the name of Jesus.
Jesus himself is a model of love, acceptance, forgiveness, peace and hope. Yet some people like to use/misuse the name of Jesus to promote an agenda which is narrow, judgmental and off-putting to so many who might be attracted to a more fair expression of Jesus.
What I am describing is not about any particular theological perspective. I have seen narrow-minded, harsh, judgmental persons operate from both the “right” and the “left.” No, what I am describing is not really theological at all, it is about power and control. Some persons misuse the name of Jesus to support their own personal biases and agendas. Jesus is given a bad name by some people who abuse his good name for their own purposes.
I am reminded of a saying attributed to Gandhi who was asked, “Why are you not a Christian?” Supposedly he said (I have not been able to verify the actual quote), “I would be a Christian if more Christians would act like Jesus.”
We who claim the name of Jesus need to act like Jesus in these important ways:
  • Within our church arguments and disputes, we need to model a spirit of humility and caring – rather than making our church arguments look like the typical political debates of our secular culture.
  • In dealing with persons of other faiths, we need to listen to the faith lessons of others and then to share our Christian perspective with a gracious attitude.
  • As we approach the political and societal issues of our day, we need to bring our Christian perspective in a way which attracts support and welcomes differing views.
  • In all of our concerns and discussions, we need to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) who did not grasp equality with God, but who humbled himself.
  • In our efforts to share the Good News, we need first to BE the Good News that we proclaim. John 3:17 reminds us that God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. Our message must never be one of condemnation, but of Good News and hope.
A few years ago I was home sick and had the TV on without any volume – just kind of mindlessly watching whatever showed up on the screen while I recovered from the flu. I fell asleep and then awoke to realize the TV was still on and the program was a TV evangelist. With the volume off, I just watched his face – and it was full of anger! His gestures were defiant, flailing against some perceived enemy, and he look like a boxer more than an evangelist. I don’t know what he was saying, but it certainly did not look like Good News – and it was certainly not very inviting. In a similar way, I have watched some pastors and people lead worship with a body language of apathy and depression – also not an inviting approach.
We who name the name of Jesus need to be careful that our life and our message reflects the true spirit of Jesus. Otherwise, we might give Jesus a bad name.