By Femi Aribisala
We may say we love the Lord because he is our Saviour, but the truth is we don’t like him.
In many respects, the bible is a book of prophecies. God says in the scriptures: “Don’t forget the many times I clearly told you what was going to happen in the future. For I am God- I only- and there is no other like me who can tell you what is going to happen. All I say will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Even some of the historical situations presented in the scriptures are prophetic. Therefore, they are fulfilled again and again. For example, the persecution of Isaac by his brother Ishmael is re-enacted in the persecution of Joseph by his brothers, and repeated in the persecution of David by his brothers, and again replicated in the persecution of Jesus by his brothers. Furthermore, the process continues today in the persecution of true believers by pretender Christians.
Since the true believer is created in the image and likeness of Christ, our identity is in the word of God. All we need to do is search the scriptures in order to determine what manner of men we are and what the future holds. This is because the bible does not merely predict the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It also foretells the birth, growth and development of the church of Christ.
It is the prophetic revelation about Christians that is of particular interest here. The scriptures indicate that Christians will not like Christ. The church in the wilderness rejected Moses. The Israelites rejected the prophets. The Jews rejected Jesus. Christians will reject the word of God.
God said to Ezekiel: “I am sending you to the people of Israel with my messages. I am not sending you to some far-off foreign land where you can’t understand the language- no, not to tribes with strange, difficult tongues. (If I did, they would listen!) I am sending you to the people of Israel, and they won’t listen to you any more than they listen to me! For the whole lot of them are hard, impudent, and stubborn.” (Ezekiel 3:4-7).
Indeed, the scriptures detail not so much how Jesus is hated by men, as how he is hated by his own people. John says: “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11). That statement is prophetic. Today, Christians are supposedly the people of God; so the scripture now applies to us. It means Christians will not receive Christ. Jesus himself observes that: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” (Matthew 13:57).
Most Christians don’t like the Jesus of the bible. We may say we love the Lord because he is our Saviour, but the truth is we don’t like him. “Why don’t you like me?” asks God? “What did I do to drive you away?” “What iniquity did you find in me that turned you against me?” (Jeremiah 2:5). “Hear, O you mountains, the LORD’S complaint, and you strong foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a complaint against his people, and he will contend with Israel. ‘O My people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me.’” (Micah 6:2-3).
Moses says God created man in his own image. However, George Bernard Shaw was right when he said: “We have decided to return the favor.” We have created God in our own image. God says again prophetically: “These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you.” (Psalm 50:21).
Christians don’t really like the God that is revealed in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we contradict him at every turn. We don’t want the God who insists we should love our enemies. (Matthew 5:44-45). We prefer a God who sends the fire of the Holy Ghost to destroy our enemies. We don’t want the God who says those who use the sword will be killed by the sword. (Matthew 26:52). We prefer a God who will be on our side when we go to war. We do not like the God who says we should turn the other cheek. (Luke 6:29). We prefer the God who gives an eye for an eye. We don’t want the God who desires mercy. (Matthew 9:13). We prefer a God who exacts infinite punishment on limited sin.
The God revealed in Christ is far too demanding for us. He wants everything we have. (Luke 14:33). But Christians prefer a God that only requires a tithe. We don’t like the God in Christ who regards men and women as equals. We prefer the Mountain of Fire and Miracles God who legislates that women must not wear trousers. We don’t like the God in Christ who says we should bless those who curse us. (Matthew 5:44). We prefer the God of David Oyedepo who curses his opponents.
Christians don’t like the Jesus who was born in poor and humble circumstances. We prefer the Jesus of our mega-pastors who flies around in jet-planes and even establishes his own airline. We don’t like the Jesus who did not go to school and get a formal education. (John 7:15-16). We prefer the Jesus of Chris Oyakhilome who boasts of his PhD. We prefer the God who establishes church universities where good money is made by collecting high fees.
New improved Jesus
Indeed, the real Jesus of Nazareth has become so offensive to Christians that we have created a new improved Jesus more to our liking. This new Jesus is no longer poor, meek and lowly. But according to some, including such eminent evangelists as Oral Roberts and John Avanzini, he is a rich man who wears “designer clothes.” Jesse Duplantis and others even claim the donkey Jesus rode in humility into Jerusalem was a brand-new “Continental Donkey;” thereby ascribing to it the same status as today’s Cadillac.
Jesus has been given a spiritual makeover. He is no longer physically ugly according to prophecy: “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2). The modern-day Jesus is very handsome. He is not even Middle-Eastern any longer: he is European and blue-eyed. In effect, we have fulfilled the prophecy which says of the true Jesus: “He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Isaiah 53:3).
But even more than the fact that we don’t like Jesus personally, we certainly don’t like his doctrine. We don’t like his insistence that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross in order to follow him. (Matthew 16:24). We don’t like his requirement that we have to lose our life in order to save it. (Mark 8:35). We don’t heed his warning that we should not be worldly but should be hated by the world. (John 15:18-20). We don’t obey his injunction not to have any other father but God. (Matthew 23:9). We don’t agree with him that it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24).