Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Seeing God's image

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Dignity is God’s signature written on the soul of every human being.”
— Crawford Loritts in Leadership As An Identity

This weekend, the world was shocked to see white supremacist and hate groups gathering in Charlottesville Virginia.  It was shocking, not just because of the size and scope of the protest, but because of the depth of the hatred expressed by these groups.  Naturally, hate spills into violence.  Article after article now confirms that the violence was not just a "protest gone awry" but a staged, well organized plan of violence.

In the aftermath of this violence which resulted in death and many injuries, was a dagger plunged into the collective soul of America.  It's not fatal, but it was like pulling off the bandage of a wound perceived to be healing, but finding it festering, infected, and spreading.  In reality, particularly for most people of color, the presence of this degree of hatred and evil is not surprising or even shocking.  What was shocking was the responses of those who are called to wield the moral authority of our nation, and our faith traditions.  While many were immediately able to speak against the hatred, others were silent, and a significant minority were defending the racist hatred and violence.

In the midst of the violence, there was one picture that literally stopped me in my tracks.  I had seen the tragic pictures of Neo-Nazi's beating defenseless people, one of which punched a woman in her face, another of the horrendous car attack that killed a peace advocate, but none of these impacted me like this one;





This picture shows a counter-protester looking in the face of members of the KKK members.  While, I do not know what led to this exchange, we see a courageous woman who dares to look in the face of those who are spewing hate and who have historically been responsible for violence that killed and maimed thousands of people of color.  There are several ways to interpret this incredibly prophetic act:

Perhaps she is "staring" down the KKK members to show that she is not afraid or intimidated.  While this is courageous, I suspect that this is a shallow interpretation of what is happening.  Perhaps she is the aggressor and the KKK is simply respectfully listening to her opinion and perspective regarding racial equality.  Alsthough our President may suggest that there was aggression from "both" sides, people present reported generally unilateral aggression from White Supremacists.  So most likely this did not happen.

More likely this is a prophetic act of love.  There is concept, common in eastern and African cultures that basically says "to be seen is to be loved, to be loved is to be seen".  It is this concept, that is consistently demonstrated in both Hebrew and Greek scriptures where respect and dignity is bestowed by first appreciating another by giving them your attention.  Jesus "Looked at" and "Loved" those who is ministered towards.  By forcing an eye to eye gaze with someone who is hostile towards you, it does multiple things:

1. It forces the other to see you.  It forces them to see a human being who defies their dehumanizing hate.  It forces them to see a person with a beating heart,  eyes that are windows to a soul,  and a reflection and similarity to people whom they may love.  Humanization is the first step is dismantling hate.

2. It forces you to see the other as a person.  It is important that those who advocate for peace continually see the dignity of the image of God in all involved.  This is the hardest aspect of peace advocacy.  There is a continual temptation to dehumanize those who dehumanize others.  Jesus's approach was love everyone, including those who oppose and oppress you.  Turn the other cheek, resist evil, bless those who persecute you are not cliches, but the way to peace.  It begins with seeing the dignity of God within every soul.

I pray that we become the peacemakers that the world desperately needs.  It begins and ends with "seeing" other, even those who try to hide their humanity behind literal masks, as well as masks of hate, violence, and brutality.

Blessed are the peacemakers,


Pastor Michael Traylor

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Politics of Justice

“Can unjust leaders claim that God is on their side— leaders whose decrees permit injustice? They gang up against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:20-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“For I believe the crisis in the U.S. church has almost nothing to do with being liberal or conservative; it has everything to do with giving up on the faith and discipline of our Christian baptism and settling for a common, generic U.S. identity that is part patriotism, part consumerism, part violence, and part affluence.”
— Walter Brueggeman in A Way Other Than Our Own

The last year has revealed some very interesting things about the institutional church and the theological tribe within Christianity known as evangelicals.  Evangelicalism, which was known as a theological distinction within Protestantism,  now is known more for the political ideologies in which it has become associated with over the past 30 years.  So, those outside of Evangelicalism, understand its affiliation with "conservative" causes such as anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, pro-business, racial isolation, and sexism, than its adherrance to the possibility of a relationship with God, the infallibility of Scripture, or the need to share the good news of Jesus to the world.

There is a saying that says "I can not hear what you saying because your actions are so loud".  The Evangelical institution churches have acted upon, affiliated with, and promoted causes, candidates, and campaigns that elevates a political agenda over their theological affirmations.  I recognize that I am painting with a very broad brush and their are many Evangelical churches who have refused to be co-opted by a political agenda, however, the vast majority allowed their light for Jesus to be dimmed by the dirt of political agendas.

This past week, President Trump signed an executive order allowing tax-exempt religious organizations such as a church to be able to endorse, contribute, and receive contributions from political candidates.  If you follow history, this should alarm you.  During the rise of totalitarianism in Nazi Germany, the first voice that was silenced was the church of Germany.  It allowed the open support of the church for Nazism in return for its protected existence.  Churches in Nazi Germany that were prophetic in its challenge of the political powers of the day, where not given formal status and persecuted.   When Churches become tax exempt conduits of political agendas, the co-opt has become complete.  We are seeing this happening before our eyes.

The agenda of Jesus is cosmological in scope.  The charge that Jesus gives his Church begins with statement "All authority in heaven and Earth has been given to me".  In other words, we have the ability to influence all manner of things because we are extensions of the source of authority. Political activity is necessary and not evil in itself.  In America, many of the reformations, revolutions, and reforms were movements that stemmed from the authentic church of Jesus Christ.  It's time that the church understood that politics are a tool but not a master.  We side with Jesus, in his compassion for the sick, the marginalized, and the outsider.  We dare not attempt to "conserve" the existing order of injustice, oppression, exploitation, or objectification wherever it exists.  We speak truth, in love, seeking to promote the flourishing of all made in the image of God.

I believe that God is calling his Church to arise and be the prophetic voice in which we were created to be.  I believe that too many churches have no idea of what the gospel is because they have allowed political agendas to be infused with their understanding of authentic faith.  We can either rise to our true calling, or continue to become a tool of political ideologies that weaken and pervert our witness.

“We cannot let narrow religious forces highjack our moral vocabulary, forces who speak loudly about things God says little about while saying so little about issues that are at the heart of all our religious traditions: truth, justice, love, and mercy. The movement we have witnessed—the movement we most need—is a moral movement.”
— The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in The Third Reconstruction

May God bless you


Pastor Michael Traylor

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Paying The Dues for Social Justice

""Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced"
--James Baldwin


"I could no longer sit around in Paris discussing America.  I had to come and pay my dues."
--James Baldwin


For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28)


I had the privilege to watch the documentary "I am not your negro" that chronicled the perspective and the works of James Baldwin.  James Baldwin was an African American novelist, intellectual, and social critic who wrote and spoke for the African American experience in an nearly unparalleled manner for over 30 years from the 1950's to the 1980's.  His writing and speaking style combines the richness of many streams of literature and applied them to the tragedy of the African American experience resulting in work that is as elegant as it is provocative in nature.


In the documentary, it begins with James Baldwin's own narrative regarding the need to come back to America in the late 1960's after the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Baldwin had left the United States to live in Paris, where he felt he was free to express himself and live in an environment that was not cursed with the deep seated racism that he experienced throughout his life.  It was there in Paris, where he would write and flourish while feeling that it was no longer appropriate to describe the problems of race, sexuality, and inequity in America, without being part of the solution.

He describes his return to America as "paying my dues".  His return literally meant visibly aligning himself with the civil rights movement and sharing in the sufferings of those who dared to speak up, march, protest, and give life and limb to demand human dignity and the rights inherent to that dignity.

A couple of convictions regarding social justice were confirmed in his story:


1. Effective participation in protest has a personal and public cost.
It is always tempting to advocate from afar.  Baldwin could have been content to lob critiques or launch sophisticated rebuttals to the cultural cruelties of America  while in Europe.  One could argue that it was his distance from the organized civil right movements that often allowed him to get access to the public media of his age.  In other words, he was less intimidating because of his disconnection with the movement of the ages.  While he certainly knew Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers, he was not officially connected to any of their movements.  To become effective, Mr Baldwin had to come and participate, understanding and sharing the real sacrifices and burdens.

2. Community Organizers seek to develop organizations, not just a movement.
One of the fathers of community organizing, Saul Alinsky argued "Effective organization is thwarted by the desire for instant and dramatic change."  The occupy movement was just that.  A movement; a collection of people mobilized to seek change.  Movements come and go and are often prisoners to an issue.  Organizations are centered around a vision and mission and that allows the development structures that builds on success.

3. Injustice against one sector of a society is related to injustice in many other sectors.  James Baldwin was an openly gay man.  While he certainly experienced discrimination and hatred due to his sexuality, it also kept him from being readily accepted in civil rights circles.  He knew Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., but he rarely was spoken of by them.  Likewise, there were very few women in leadership in civil rights movements of the 1960's.  It wasn't because African American women didn't feel the double stings of racism and sexism, but because they were not given opportunity.  Sometimes in our best efforts to advocate against a type of injustice, we must be careful not to perpetuate multiple injustices toward others.

His life and writings are treasures that are as relevant today as they were at the time of their writing.  Pulitzer prize winning author Eric Hoffer wrote "the vigor of a mass movement stems from the propensity of its followers for united action and self-sacrifice."  I pray that those involved in protesting injustice will have the courage to carry the burden, the wisdom to organize, and compassion to be inclusive.

God bless





Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Rhythm of Protest

It is important to remember that there has never been a conservative prophet.  Prophets were never made to conserve social order that stratified inequities of power, prestige, and wealth.  Prophets were always called to change them so all would have the fullest access to the best fruits of life.
--Obrey M Hendrick in "The Universe Bends Towards Justice"

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that should always pray and never give up...Learn a lesson form the unjust judge.  Even he rendered a just decision in the end.  So don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?  Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the Earth who have faith?
--Luke 18:1, 7-8 (NLT)


The first 6 weeks of 2017 have been remarkable in almost every sense.  The election of Donald Trump to President of the United States has literally pulled back the covers on some issues, identities and priorities that were not clear.  I think its been particularly polarizing for people of faith, where some have supported Mr. Trump and others have protested against him, his policies, and his character.  One of the positive effects of his presidency thus far has been the organization of those concerned with issues of justice to mobilize and advocate collectively for peace.

As a participant in several groups centered around justice, I want to encourage those who are already feeling tired, overwhelmed and frustrated.  A couple of thoughts

1. The work of Justice is arduous and require endurance.
 
Eugene Cho once asked "Is it possible that we all love compassion and justice ... until there's a personal cost to living compassionately, loving mercy, and seeking justice?".  The assumption behind the question is that there is always a personal cost to seeking justice.  The call of God that is often quoted to walk humbly, love mercy and seek justice requires sacrifice.  The agency of Justice is love, and love is clearly built upon the foundation of sacrifice and service.  In other words, the work of justice is hard, long, and WILL take a personal toll. 

2. Effective advocacy is relationally driven. 

I was once asked by a member of a church that I pastored why do I always talk about racism and sexism. (I do not really, but thats a different blog).  I responded that for me to not talk about racism is like asking a fish not to talk about water.  Since it has been my experience and the experience of those who I identify with,  Its natural.  Many people have the option to simply opt out of the discussion on issues of injustice because the issues at hand do not affect themselves, or their community.  Justice advocacy begins with identifying with the pain and the life of those being victimized.  This is the essence of Jesus' challenge in Matthew 25 when he tells his followers that whatever they have done to the most marginalized, they have done towards him.   It is imperative that advocacy work begins with  the victims of injustice, is done among victims of injustice, and is expressed in their words,  shaped by their stories.

3.  The work of Justice, like all ministry, flows with a relentless rhythm.

Jesus told his followers to relentlessly seek justice (Luke 18).  He encouraged his people not only to pray persistently, but to be the vehicle for justice (think the feeding of the 5000, using a justice or liberation hermeneutic).  We need to understand that perseverance is part of the Jesus justice strategy.

In all work, including justice advocacy, there is to be a rhythm.  Times of work launched from times of rest and contemplation.  This is the creative and the redemptive model.  A former martial arts instructor of mine used to sat "Just because you are tired and stopped fighting, doesn't mean that the fight is over".  What she was alluding towards, was the idea that the issue that we are facing often overwhelms our energy and tenacity to face it.  Justice work is long and it is better described as a former mentor frequently described it as a "relentless stream barreling toward its goal".  The movement must be flexible and adaptive but none-the-less, relentless and focused.

All that to say, rest but do not give up.  Take time to gather, meditate, contemplate, re-focus, and re-direct, but do not give up.  Work from your rest; do not simply rest from you work.

4. The prophetic ministry of shalom-making provokes a response, and too often it is negative.

Protest typically invokes a negative response from others who are happy with the status quo.  Sometimes, it is the "good people" whose idleness and indifference makes it possible for injustice to flourish.  Prophetic ministry need never apologize for the truth, but you will be misunderstood, persecuted, and marginalized.  Jesus also explained that if he was persecuted, misunderstood, and marginalized, that we could expect the same if we truly follow him.  While, we never desire to be provocative for the sole purpose of being provocative, we should expect pushback as we "share in the sufferings of Christ".  The prince of peace brings a peace that is dangerous and subversive.   Brueggeman states that the shalom that Jesus brings "overrides the expectations of our society, which awaits a peacemaker who will ensure our advantages in the world".


So I want to encourage you to keep on sharing!  Keep on protesting!  Keep on praying!  Be the voice out of the wilderness that prepares the way for the prince of peace.  Do not be afraid or intimidated to speak the truth.  Tell the stories of injustice  because "to remember truthfully is to render justice to both the victim and the perpetrator and is the first step towards reconciliation" (Miroslav Volf).  Be part of the solution and the change that you want to see.


as one of my favorite artists sang:

Advocate with:

One love, one blood, one heart, one soul and one drum, and only one rhythm
One tribe and all of us singing


God bless you all as you advance the Kingdom

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Prophetic Politics: The Activity of the Authentic Church

“And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.””
Matthew 13:57 NLT

“It is important to remember that there has never been a conservative prophet.  Prophets were never made to conserve social order that stratified inequities of power, prestige, and wealth. Prophets were always called to change them so all would have the fullest access to the best fruits of life.”
— Obery M. Hendricks in The Universe Bends Towards Justice


There is unspoken debate within organized Christianity in regards to the Church's political activity that is shaped largely by self-labeled metaphors that originally were created to describe a reality, but interestingly, now serve to shape it. Christian leaders, like their secular peers use words like conservative, progressive, family valued,  right-wing, left-wing, etc.  All of these terms are political terms that are social constructs with a highly variable meanings.  Depending on who is using the description, any of these terms are tools for either solidarity or exclusion.  Rarely do they point to a clear, concise political reality, but are simply labels to ease our consciences and support our engagement or absence in the political arena of our choice.

Our desire to use these labels to describe our church communities, not only serves to be self-deceptive but also isolates the Church from the world it seeks to impact.  Christena Cleveland, in Disunity in Christ, her excellent analysis of Church dysfunction, states; “The simple act of using us/them distinctions leads us to prefer us over them.”  She boldly, and prophetically declares "“The blueprint of the household of God looks nothing like the blueprints of our own cultural and social cliques.”  We fail to understand how using these labels are simply tools for embrace and exclusion.

I take exception to the term "conservative" because it is the label most used by many evangelical Christians and in my experience, it is the label that has been used to legitimize all kinds of idolatry, cruelty, and behavior that is the antithesis of its name-sake.    Stripping away its meaning, conservative means to "conserve" or to preserve conditions and prevailing ideologies.  To those who have significant cultural and economic privileges, this is appealing.  Yet, to those who are burdened by inequity, injustice, prejudices, and lack of opportunity, it represents a real obstacle to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Pulitzer Prize winning author Eric Hoffer, in True Believers, clarifies this when he says "The well-adjusted make poor prophets".

Theologian Miroslav Volf describes authentic Christianity as a "Prophetic faith" (A Public Faith).  Prophetic in that its adherents have an encounter with God that leads to a personal transformation and a public reformation.  It is the transformative encounter that clarifies the divine mission in which followers of Jesus become agents of change for human good.  Imagine the Old Testament prophet who who has an encounter with God and then comes and proclaim the Word and will of God to change the world!  He distinguishes the prophetic faith from a mystical faith where the adherent encounters God and experiences transformation as an end to itself.  The purpose of a mystical faith is self-actualization and there is no obligation or mission towards the world.

While the Church is not conservative or progressive, it is to be prophetic.  Prophetic is not a label that describes a status, but a term that defines its mission.  This means the Church, should be an extension of Jesus Christ and should embody and proclaim His mission to sacrificially bless the world in a wholistic manner.  While operating in a prophetic mode, the church lives out its mission to demonstrate the Love of God through helping the marginalized, the misunderstood, and countering the malicious.  While practicing prophetic politics, we should lead in peacemaking and embrace the role of upholding the image of God in humanity in multitudes of ways.  Prophetic politics leverages its resources in order to be a blessing and refuses to be co-opted by any ideology or political movement.  The Church, operating in the prophetic role is not afraid to stand against every form of hate, discrimination, oppression and is courageous enough to start with itself.  Jim Wallis points out "“When the church refuses to face the stern reality of sin, it will have no credibility when it talks about its faith, forgiveness, and salvation”

So, let's get away from these political terms when it comes to the Church and understand that our role to bless our world is not only our mission, but it's our essence.  When we advocate, let us guard our words as we are advocating on behalf of the prince of peace.

I pray that the Church will have a deeper understanding of its calling and repent of not ministering out of the prophetic identity. I pray that it uses its profound resources to honor God and bless others.  I pray that the Church, most importantly, will be the Church.

God bless

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Trump Warning

“The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.”
Proverbs 10:11 NLT

"But dehumanizing the victim makes things simpler
It's like breathing with a respirator
It eases the conscience of even the most conscious
And calculating violator

The power of words, don't take it for granted
When you hear a man ranting
Don't just read the lips, be more sublime than this
Put everything in context
"

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy in "Language of Violence"



I have truly been amazed at the degree of violence that has occurred at Donald Trump rallies, but not surprised.  I watch and see African American young women, about the age of my daughter, getting pushed around, spat upon, and called racial and sexual epitaphs, all while the crowd howls with delight and shouts "USA, USA, USA", while mistreating and objectifying it fellow citizens.  I watched 2 days ago, as a African American Protester, is escorted out of a rally while also being subjected to racist and dehumanizing shouts.  This time, one of the supporters in the audience decided to strike the young man in the face.  The multiple law enforcement officers who were escorting the victim immediately tackled and further humiliated him while conveniently ignoring the attacker.  This attacker would later be interviewed and said, "Next time, we might have to kill him"

I appreciate his use of the plural, "we".  It speaks to a mindset that is prevalent among the supporters of Donald Trump for president.  It first separates "real Americans" as those who are not Muslim, not people of color.  Haven't seen a white male protester targeted  yet?  That shouldn't surprise you.  It is the language of violence that precedes the acts of violence.

Candidate Trump has openly disparaged his fellow candidates, Muslims, immigrants, Black Lives Matter activists, women using very degrading language.  So, when there is violence against them, it is easier because we have already used our language to transform them from people to objects, and then to objects of wrath.

I had the privilege to visit in Rwanda in 2012 and learned firsthand the causes and formation of genocide.  While there are many different factors, simply the violence begins with language.  The Language of violence began with calling a group of people "cockroaches" and vermin.  That language was not challenged and eventually allowed neighbors to use fire, machetes, and guns to exterminate the vermin and exterminate the cockroaches next door.  1 million dead in 100 days...

During his Rallies, Donald Trump has never come out and condemned the violence, nor will he separate himself from those who are renown for violence (White supremacists groups, etc).  He stated at a debate when asked about the violence, "I certainly didn't condone that".  To their shame, no other candidate had the courage and moral fortitude to challenge him and have him condemn the violence and resolve not to tolerate that kind of violence in his rally.  He didn't, and he won't.   

This is a warning!  As the powerful lyrics above proclaim, "the power of words, don't take them for granted when. You hear a man ranting, be more sublime than this, put everything in context".  Does someone need to get shot?  Does someone have to die before we recognize the danger.

This is a movement like the fascist movement in Italy prior to WWII.  Let us not be silent.  Speak against hate, refuse to stand with those who support hate.  Reject the language and codes of violence and degradation.  Seek unity in our diversity not isolation in our fear.  

Unfortunately, as the lyrics would go on to say:  "Death is the silence in the language of violence".  It will continue and intensify until we, you and I refuse to tolerate it.

I pray that today, you will be the peacemaker you were created to be!

May God bless you

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Preventing Doubt

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."~ John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11-12


"What comes to minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."~A.W. Tozer


I began a study on the gospel of Matthew for the new year.  I have read the book of Matthew countless times and have studied using many different well-accepted Biblical tools for analysis.  While those have been very useful and have blessed me, I decided to read through the gospel differently.  I was not reading for information, but reading for spiritual formation.  This requires an approach where the focus is on listening. Spiritual formation is a growth process.  It is the process of becoming whole through mystical, mental, and moral transformation the comes through the dynamic engagement of scripture and the Spirit of God.  

This is my formational nugget from this morning

In Matthew, chapter 3, we are introduced to John the Baptist.  He is identified as a prophet who was prophesied about 700 years before he was born and that he would "prepare the way for the Lord's coming".  He was sort of an eccentric guy but deeply respected.  He is described by Jesus himself as "among those born of women there is no one greater than John." (Lk 7:28).  This highly esteemed prophet understood his historical role as the herald and servant of Jesus.

Interestingly, what struck me in today's reading was John's understanding of the person of Jesus.  You see, in the back of my mind, I am thinking about the end of John's life when he would question if Jesus was really who he said he was (Mt 11:2-6).  This is the same John who would baptize Jesus and be with Jesus when he is confirmed by God publicly by saying audibly, "This is my Son whom I am well pleased".  How could John be unsure?

John describes Jesus ministry in terms of salvation for the righteous and judgment towards those who are unrighteous.  John openly challenged religious people of his time and declared them as "brood of vipers" and states that the coming Messiah would collect the good toward himself and burn/destroy the unproductive and unrighteous.  It is the emphasis on the conquering Messiah portrayed in not only liberation of the righteous, but on punishment and retaliation against the unrighteous and unjust.  

As Jesus' ministry progressed, he was constantly upending conventional expectations.  During his ministry, he did provide hope for the righteous" but spent a majority of his time ministering among the "unrighteous" and "the sinner".  Jesus exercised grace over judgment.  He preached and practiced the "love your enemies" and the non-violent approach to horrific violence and oppression. 

John, despite his being filled with the Holy Spirit since birth (Lk 1:15) experienced a misunderstanding in the nature and person of Jesus.  He began to experience significant doubt in the mission and identity of Jesus because he simply mischaracterized Jesus.

How often do loose faith because we have mischaracterized the object of our faith.  We understand Jesus as our "genie in a bottle", or maybe our "means to prosperity", or even our superman who saves us from badness but has no relationship with us.  When Jesus fails to meet our superimposed expectations, we experience crisis.

Jesus wants to know us and be known.  He is not beholden to the image that others, including very well meaning people, place upon him.  Our role is ask the subversive questions within our own contexts where it is tempting to design a Jesus that meets our desires and  does not challenge our presumptions about ourselves.  When we truly seek the authentic Jesus, we find that Jesus will surprise you because:

Colossians 1:15-20
 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 

I pray that we do not fall into doubt or crisis because our understanding of Jesus is flawed.  After all, according to A.W. Tozer, our understanding of Jesus Character is the most important thing about us.

God bless you,

Michael