Uncertainty about religious belief today has caused an increase of those who identify themselves as nonbelievers, agnostics and atheists. Some Christians objecting to various dogmas of Christianity have created a new non-church identity, “I am follower of Jesus!” One wonders: “A follower of which Jesus…the romanticized stained glass savior or the real Jesus?”
The scriptural commentator Patricia Sanchez, holder of theological and literature degrees, recently wrote, “Jesus chose to associate with people whom the rest of his contemporaries found reprehensible…Jesus’ manner was so off-putting that many people could not move beyond their repulsion to hear and accept his message. In a word he was a rule-breaker, an iconoclast, and those who follow him with integrity must be the same.”
I found her last sentence, “…he was a rule-breaker, an iconoclast and those who follow him with integrity must also be the same,” so compelling I keep it before me on my desk. No Bible or sacred images of Jesus show him as a holy image-breaker, zealot, religious saboteur, rebel and a holy terror—all descriptions of an iconoclast. Nor is he ever depicted without a halo as a violator of religious rules and moral codes, a black sheep—a sinner! If you are a follower of Jesus, do either these two descriptions describe you?
Jesus lived in a deeply religious culture where daily life was regulated by countless commandments and dietary and purification rules he distained to observe. This blatant disregard for religious rules and societal codes in the eyes of his law-biding culture made him a sinner! In fact, he was a notorious public sinner who audaciously enjoyed eating and drinking with religious outcasts and prostitutes. Outlaw Jesus didn’t rob banks—he just lived out-side-laws. He ignored as obsolete any that he judged incompatible with his great law of love. He didn’t break laws, he simply ignored those he believed no longer applied or whose observance was a burden.
Which of the Bible’s God-given ancient laws today would the Black Sheep Jesus dismiss with a wave of his hand as obsolete, and so invalid? What regulations of Christian churches concerning whom one can or can’t marry, or attending church every Sunday as the law requires, or those about alcohol or dancing, do you think he would likewise dismiss today as being contrary to the freedom of the sons and daughters of God?
If asked if you are a follower of Jesus, how many would reply, “Well, I’m definitely no follower of a reprobate breaker of rules, especially of laws in the Bible! I faithfully observe every Sunday the rule to attend church, keep all the Commandments and church rules, read the bible, and tithe as a faithful (choose one of following): Presbyterian / Methodist / Roman Catholic / Episcopalian / Baptist / Other Christian.