By Adam and Christine Jeske

Three Things I Hate About Jesus

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.”

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.

I hate that I can’t just pick and choose the teachings I want from this Jesus fellow.

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.

This October, Christine and Adam Jeske are leading a Facebook community that wants to live more amazing days, of both faith and fun. The Jeskes have lived lots of amazing days in Nicaragua, China, South Africa, and the U.S. Their next book has just come out (This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling). She is getting a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, and he leads social media for InterVarsity and the Urbana Missions Conference. Connect at their blog or at Into the Mud or follow @christinejeske and @adamjeske.

(This post originally appeared at relevantmagazine.com on Oct. 3, 2012)

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Comments

This is hard to digest. I think i understand what your saying, but if i am to embrace this i have read into your words more than i think i can justify doing. Hate is a very strong word. By hate do you mean the words are hard and uncomfortable or downright atrocious? How does this post, or more importantly the feelings of hate an disgust you express, honor this Jesus whom you say you "need" and surely love? Yes we need to be open about words of Jesus we don't immediatly jump for joy about, but hate? How does Romans 8:28 influence your theology? I don't usually post things like this, but your post has provoked me. I'm not here questioning your faith or allegiance to our King, i just question if this post is a post Jesus is proud of.

Thanks, tah16. I think Jesus wants us to be helpfully honest, so I am trying to be honest here. There are things that I really, really don't like about Jesus and his teaching. Notice I didn't say that I hate Jesus. Rather, I really, really don't like that he allows wheat and weeds to grow together, that he's exclusive, and that he demands everything from me. I would much prefer that Jesus rip out weeds right away, that he allow any "good person" to enter his kingdom, that he allow me to retain some of my selfish self. But that's not how Jesus is. I think a lot of people pretend they love everything about Jesus and what following him means. I think I would be lying if I pretended that. Yes, God is still at work on me, by his grace, and he's already changed me a lot. Finally, I think a lot of people just disregard the things about Jesus and his way that they don't like. Notice I'm still relying on him and doing my best to follow him, again by his grace, even in ways that I don't like because ultimately I *do* believe what I read in Romans and the rest of the Bible. What do you not like about Jesus and the Christian life?

When I was a kid I would eat candy and get fat. I would play video games all the time. I would want to do a whole lot of fun things, and sometimes I did. But my parents scolded me all the time. I didn't see the reason at the time, but it was all for my own good. And now that I am a bit older if I ever have a child I would do the same thing. I listened to what my parents said (most of the time :), but there were some things that they told me that I strongly disagreed with and did not want to follow. God cares about us, and that is why these teachings exist. The problem is that when we grow up, it is not easy to see why these things are so bad for us when they are so "good." We can't just get older; it doesn't work that way. But we can take comfort in the fact that even God's foolishness is greater than man's wisdom. Unfortunately for a fluffy bunny like me, sometimes I still neglect to listen..

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