Jesus: Undercover Boss

Maybe you’ve seen the show, “Undercover Boss”. If you haven’t seen it, the concept is that the CEO/owner/president of a company takes an entry level position in their own company to see whether or not the mission of the company is being lived out by the employees in the day to day. One night, as Lindsay and I were watching it she raised the disturbing question about what would happen if Jesus did the undercover boss thing, and took an entry level position at any given church at any given time. I have to wonder if the people he’d be working with and preaching to would like Him very much at all.

In our student ministry, we taught a series last year called “Jesus who?” The whole purpose of the series was to expose some of our most deeply rooted misconceptions about who Jesus is, so we can divide what the gospels say about His life and ministry from what we’ve sort of added in to make Him easier to swallow. We picture a safe Jesus with flowing brown, flat ironed, hair that spoke gently and stood on street corners holding children and petting sheep. He’s handsome and clean cut. He only wears the nicest flowing white robes. Even though he was born in the Middle East some 1700 years before the United States of America existed, He looks like an American and has the same values as most Americans. Mostly, Jesus has been presented as a nice guy – a mister Rogers of the first century if you will. People that grew up going to Sunday school have learned to associate Jesus with Kool-aid, golden stars for attendance, flannel graph boards, and sugar cookies. Just Google image search the word “Jesus” and you’ll see what I mean. We’ve created a Jesus in our minds and in our paintings that doesn’t look much like the real one at all. And for this very reason, when the moment comes at the end of the show when the employees walk into a room and find out that this person is the CEO, I believe many people would be shocked to find out this guy was really Jesus.

Every time I move away from reading the gospels for a while, I gradually lose the sense that our Jesus looks very different from the Jesus in scripture. But when I dive back in, I’m confronted every single time with how straight forward and controversial He is. I’m convicted that he was never okay with half hearted followers and even refused to allow people to follow Him who were not fully devoted. He didn’t care about numbers; when thousands of people were following him around in John 6, He preached the worst possible message for the situation… on purpose. He spent time with thieves, prostitutes, and other social outcasts and apparently ate and drank more casually with them than the religious leaders approved of. He was seemingly always getting his hands dirty. In His words, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. He came to bring good news for the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed. And He stressed that God’s kingdom had drawn near – in fact he spoke of this kingdom everywhere He went. He gave his disciples an invitation to get executed after living a life of denying themselves. Religious folk weren’t fans of him – they were always trying to get him to slip up and tried to kill him on more than one occasion. They succeeded once. I suspect that while we may not kill him, we may release him from his duties for the following reasons:

1) He speaks with too much authority and offends people, especially the ones who are already faithful to the religious establishment.

2) He is not interested in pleasing people – rather in challenging people to do what pleases God.

3) He does not play well with a crowd

4) He doesn’t understand people’s undying commitment to academics and athletics at the expense of their pursuit of God – his expectations are way too high

5) He talks about money too much – and rarely in a good way

6) He spends too much time in environments where ministers should not be seen

I say all this because I have been convicted so much over the past 3 years or so that I may not respond well to Jesus if he did the whole undercover boss thing. I only worry about what my reaction would be because he actually did to the undercover boss thing. And he was despised, rejected, betrayed, and murdered by the people who were “closest to God”. So, we must continually refocus our eyes on the mission Jesus has given us to ensure that we are fulfilling His purpose – not one we made up along the way.

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