I have caught wind of some strange teachings adrift among some of us American Christians. It goes something like this: Jesus shows us all what a real man is. He was an "in your face", strong armed, authoritative, no-nonsense kind of guy, who was not affected by emotions. He was (and one would assume from that, is) the epitome of masculinity.
This way of thinking is not coming from professing Christians who have a low view of Scripture, but those who, like myself, believe the Bible is the inscripturated Word of God. So that we base our lives, and find our story, within this Book, which itself is alive from God.
Worldliness, as in human thinking that is opposed to God's revelation to humankind in Christ and as found in Scripture, affects us all. We're all under the ongoing command not to be conformed to this world, but to be being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12). I do think that worldliness in some ways is more dangerous among those who are quick to point their finger at other Christians, and who think that they themselves have escaped it, at least in their basic belief (and practice) system. When we think we're in the least danger, or danger is past, then we're in the most danger, is the ring of Scripture to us, again and again.
The Jesus I read of in the Bible is not macho American, or macho anything else. One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus along with an invitation is found in Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus is described there as gentle and humble in heart. The picture I pick up of Jesus, by American standards when judging manliness is probably mixed. Yes, he throws out the money changers in the temple. He probably is the man in his family for awhile, since Joseph seems to fade out of the picture and Jesus is left as "the carpenter" and oldest son.
But Jesus also weeps. He is a man of sorrows. He loves individuals. He is moved with compassion on people and multitudes. He forgives his enemies, including those who spit on him, beat him, and nail him to a cross. And, as we read in the above passage, Jesus is gentle and humble, or lowly in heart.
I am not impressed with the wave of teaching that makes Jesus into a kind of clone, or better put, the epitome of what amounts to an idealized worldly philosophy. While Jesus was and is certainly a human male, he is the pattern, and life, from the Father and by the Spirit, in whom we're all to grow, and take on our new humanity and character. Females and males alike in that. Yes, we're not neutered. But neither are we reduced to an ideal that is really in Adam, and not in our Lord.
I suppose I would like to work more on this. Though I really would do so out of a sense of necessity, and not because of any personal interest I have in it. We're learning, through Scripture, by the Spirit, in community, what Christ-likeness is really like. Let's learn to be content with that. And, in the words of our Master and Teacher, come to him, take his yoke so we can walk alongside of him, and find him lifting our weariness and burdens. He who is gentle and humble in heart. Finding that his yoke is easy; his burden he carries is light. And that we're all in this together with him.
Are you familiar with this teaching or image of Jesus? Does Jesus fit any particular stereotype in your mind? Or in whom do you see his image most clearly? Or, what thoughts would you add to this?