Domesticating Jesus Today

Gerhard Lohfink in his No Irrelevant Jesus offers the following list of ways he sees the church domesticating Jesus (black print).  This list is from Scot McKnight’s blog at  I offer what I take as translations of them for my life in red print.

Jesus is tamed and made irrelevant in a terrible way when we cease to speak about his imminent expectation.

What if Jesus really is coming back, perhaps today, even this hour?  How would that change my life?

Jesus is rendered irrelevant when his preaching of judgment, which makes up a significant portion of the gospel tradition, is ignored and there is talk only of the loving and tender Jesus.

And if he’s really coming back, what if I have to account before him for how I’ve served him in my life?

Jesus is tamed when there is no more preaching about his sharp words against the rich. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God,” Jesus said (Mark 10:25).

What if my checkbook really is the measure of my discipleship?

Jesus is tamed when it becomes taboo to speak of his celibacy. It was not accidental and not a matter of fate; it is connected with his absolute devotion to the people of God….

What if singleness is preferable to marriage for serving God?

Jesus is also tamed when we sharply criticize the treatment of divorced and remarried persons by Rome and yet keep silent about the altogether clear and thoroughly well-attested words of Jesus against divorce. …

What if I actually took marriage as seriously as Jesus does (and I say this as a divorced and remarried person)?

Above all, Jesus is tamed and rendered irrelevant when he is presented only as a sympathetic rabbi, a prophet mighty in word and deed, or a gifted charismatic—or as the first feminist, a radical social revolutionary, a gregarious social worker. All that conceals his true claim. In all these categories Jesus is shrunken, distorted, twisted into shape, planed smooth, disempowered, and accommodated to our secret desires.

What if Jesus is a stranger to me?  One whom I discover anew only in following him?  One who is never captured by my understanding of him, ever elusive of my categories, and always pushing me out of my comfort zone?


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