Jerks for Jesus 

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, March 16, 2022

 

By Timothy Fortune 

Columbus First Baptist

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       You are probably wondering, where did he get a title like that? The answer? From a professor. I am taking classes to further advance my ministry degree and recently I began a new class called “Great Commission Apologetics.” In the introductory lecture the lead professor Dr. Kerns made this statement, “We are not here to make you jerks for Jesus.” 

       Apologetics sometimes make people think of heated debates that border on the line of verbal jousting with words flying back and forth like two swords in a fencing match. Those debating may start to take cheap shots at each other and reach the point where the debate loses its authenticity. When this occurs, things can get ugly as passion turns into rage and fury. Sometimes, Christian apologetics can be no different as there are folks who think their job is to beat others up with words. 

       As a pastor, I have encountered people who fit the description, “jerks for Jesus.” They have an approach that is about as appealing as having a root canal or a colonoscopy. Their choice of words, tone of voice and motives are not in line with the teachings of Scripture. Sadly, these folks give Christians a bad name. If you have encountered a person who fits this bill, let me say first, I am sorry. And second, don’t cast the baby out with the bathwater. Not all Christians are like that! 

       Scripture does teach that followers of Christ should be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). To give a defense however, does not mean to be a jerk for Jesus. Instead that defense is to be seasoned with salt and delivered with kindness and gentleness. The message is meant to draw people to Christ; not to repel or push them away! Paul says in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  Christian apologetics should be engaged to edify others and to give grace to the listener not tear down, hurt or destroy. 

       Jesus was teaching in the temple area one morning when His lesson was abruptly interrupted by the Pharisees and scribes. These men had caught a lady in the act of adultery and brought her with them as they came into the temple courtyard. With the lady as the center of attention, these religious leaders told Jesus the law of Moses said she should be stoned. They then proceeded to asked Jesus what He says about this matter. Jesus did not say anything. Instead, He stooped over and began to write in the ground. The Pharisees and scribes were persistent in asking Jesus. Finally, Jesus stood up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). After all the Pharisees and scribes departed the scene, the lady was left there with Jesus. Jesus did not condemn her but instructed her to go and sin no more. 

       Jesus was not a jerk to either the religious leaders or the lady. The Lord showed compassion, grace, mercy and kindness. Could Jesus have stood up and blasted the Pharisees and scribes? Sure. Jesus could have spoken very harshly to these men but that would not have been beneficial in this situation. The Lord came to save and deliver people not to tear them down and beat them into a pulp. 

       Followers of Christ are to have the same attitude that our Lord had, which was an attitude of humility. As disciples of the Lord, we are to operate with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). When disciples walk in these fruits of the Spirit, we won’t be jerks repelling others from the Gospel but instead, lights that shine the way for others to see Christ. We are called to be disciples of Christ, not jerks for Jesus.