According to Urban Dictionary, a “jesusjuke” is when someone brings Jesus into a conversation out of nowhere to showcase their superior Jesus-ness at the expense of other people
You’ve seen and heard a #jesusjuke before even if you didn’t know what to call it.I have to admit, I enjoy a good #jesusjuke, but not because they’re helpful. I enjoy them in the way a middle school boy enjoys a good “your mom” joke. They make me giggle.
A few weeks ago I posted this meme…
I was TOTALLY kidding but was blown away by the number of people who thought I was serious and echoed my sentiment. They missed my sarcasm completely.
Here’s what I’ve learned about guilt—It’s easy. Usually, guilt is a reaction, a tool used by someone who is frustrated you don’t care as much as they do.
Growing up, well-meaning preachers would say things like, “You’ll go to the sports arena and cheer for your team when they win, but you come to church and won’t cheer for your God who has already defeated death.” (I just typed that in my best black gospel preacher voice)
Or my recent favorite referring to Christians who shop on Black Friday, “You’ll stand in line at 4 am to buy a $20 crockpot, but you can’t come to a 10am church service. I guess Jesus isn’t as important as a $20 crockpot.”
I don’t believe anyone intends to use guilt as their primary tactic for helping people, it just sort of happens because it’s easy. It’s easy to take shots, to belittle and condemn. Here’s the problem, though, it doesn’t work.
I don’t mean it won’t motivate someone to react in the short term. Guilt may cause you to go to the gym today or be more romantic, it may cause you to show up to church, but guilt never creates long-term change, only long-term shame.
If I convince you to come to church instead of a game or standing in line to buy a $20 crockpot, you may show up, but you’ll resent that you can’t have season tickets or $20 crockpots. You’ll participate because you don’t want to disappoint God or me, but you’ll begrudge it because it’s not what you really want. What you really want is a $20 crockpot.
Guilt doesn’t work because it makes you feel bad for wanting what you want… but we all want what we want.
Religion is easier to market than a relationship with Jesus because it only requires participation but never addresses motivation. It only asks you to do what you’re supposed to do even if it’s not what you want to do, but not Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want your resentful compliance. He wants you to want to.
Religion changes what you do. Jesus changes what you want to do.
I’ve always loved the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Mathew 19 because it is so opposite to my church experience.
If you don’t know the story, there was a successful young man who asked to follow Jesus, he wanted to be a disciple, and Jesus was cool with the idea, but had one request. He told the man, “Go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” But when the young man heard the request he walked away sad.
Here’s why this story is so contrary to my church experience. As pastors and Christians, we do everything we can to keep people from walking away. It’s understandable, even Jesus said to leave the 99 and go after the 1 lost sheep, but this story is a great reminder that not everyone who leaves is lost.
Why not lower the bar enough to convince the man to hang around and work on his greed issues a little at a time? Why not have him come to the men’s breakfast and read Wild At Heart?
Jesus is less concerned about what you do than he is why you want to do what you do and the worst thing you can do is convince someone to act like they’re committed to God when they don’t want to be.
There’s another story a few years later about a couple named Ananias and Sapphire. It’s in Acts 5. Long story short, they gave a BIG offering to the church building campaign, but God struck them dead in front of everyone in the middle of service. Sounds crazy, right?
Why would God ask the Rich Young Ruler to give away all his money and let him walk away disobedient, but kill Ananias and Sapphire after giving a large offering? It probably had something to do with Ananias and Sapphire wanting people to believe they were more generous than they truly were. They didn’t want to give everything but acted like they did.
To be clear, I don’t believe Ananias and Sapphire is the model for how God treats us when we feign obedience. As a matter of fact, I know it’s not because I’ve spent a lot of my life giving off the perception that Jesus was the most important thing in my life when He wasn’t, but when you contrast the two stories, letting the Rich Young Ruler walk away may have saved his life. It may have saved him from a life of underwhelming Christianity.
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