Christianity 201

April 24, 2015

Feeling the Need to Defend Jesus

Today we pay a return visit to the blog Forward Progress, written by Michael Kelley.

Jesus Doesn’t Need Our Protection

“The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17).

She didn’t mean to be incendiary. She was just asking a question.

My daughter not long ago during a family discussion about the Bible asked us, “How do we know these stories are actually true?”

The question makes sense; she’s reading all kinds of stories right now from Harry Potter to Fancy Nancy to Prince Caspian. That’s where the question came from; she wanted to know the difference between these stories and the stories we talk about from the Bible.

It was an innocent inquiry, but I felt it – something inside of me starting to rise up. Something a little bit angry. Something more than a little bit defensive.

Ever felt like that? Like you needed to step up and defend Jesus? The disciples certainly did.

  • When some irresponsible parents were letting their children sidle up to Jesus, and the disciples felt the need to protect Jesus from the annoyance.
  • In the garden, Peter was so committed to defending Jesus that it cost a Roman soldier his ear.
  • When Jesus said clearly He would be crucified, Peter again felt the impulse to defend Him from His own words, lest Jesus say something embarrassing.

These defenses of Jesus came from a misunderstanding of His character and mission; they happened because even those closest to Him failed to realize that He was not the conquering king but the suffering servant, and that even (and most especially) the lowest and least had a place with Him. They misunderstood Jesus, and the result was an impulse to defend Him, even if it meant defending Him from Himself.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s not a good and right time to stand for the truth of who He is. But in an honest assessment of myself, I find that times like those are very rare indeed. In fact, most of the time when I have the impulse to come to the defense of Jesus it’s not because I’m worried about His reputation; it’s because my eyes are fixed on myself. I am compelled to defend Jesus not out of zeal for His name and glory, but instead these criticisms or questions, innocent though they may be, force me to probe the depths of my own heart. They make me ask myself, Do I really believe this?

That’s when I get defensive. That’s when my advocacy for Jesus is less like quiet confidence and more like anger. That’s when I can verbally chop off the ears of any bystander. It’s during those times, I need to remind myself that Jesus doesn’t need me to protect Him.

In fact, my place is not in front of Jesus with a sword, but behind Him. This is my position in the gospel – not as Jesus’ advocate and defender, but with Him as mine.

Ironically, when I find myself in His shadow instead of running in front of Him, I can answer those questions whether from a little girl at my kitchen table or in society at large, be they innocent or accusatory. I can speak with a quiet confidence in the Son of God, secure in who I am because He is secure in who He is.

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