Watered Down Things People Seem to Prefer:
Numbers 3 and 4 are real issues for me. A soggy Jesus serves no purpose at all. Who wants a watered down Jesus, diluted with our filtered water and pounds of cancer causing artificial sweetener? When Jesus is watered down, he becomes far to bland and easy for people to digest. While that may sound counter-intuitive, we’ve shaken and stirred a Jesus for middle class America who looks like a summertime refreshment, not the Galilean radical intent on ushering in the Kingdom of God. We’ve delivered a Jesus who looks like us to people who we hope, think and feel like us, watered down versions of the disciples who follow him from place to place always trying to water his message down. As in this week’s Gospel text, “Jesus, we’re broke, where are we going to get the money to feed all of these people?”
Does a bland, easily digestible Jesus give people who have good reasons (in their minds) not to come to church better reasons to start coming to church? Jesus should upset your stomach, make you uncomfortable, and cause you to change your routine and question everything else surrounding you. Jesus should be better than a boat, an extra hour in bed, playing a sport, time in front of the television, or surfing the web. Sadly, many aren’t willing to water down other parts of their lives to see the value of allowing your life to be made thicker and heavier by attending church. Despite that disconnection, I remain convinced; a Jesus who isn’t watered down is more appealing to a world swimming in alternatives to organized Christianity. A Jesus who isn’t watered down loves unconditionally, calls out the dominant power systems of his day, eats with every sinner under the sun, heals the sick without a co-pay, and dies on a cross. Too often, those are the things we’re watering down. This is what people need to hear, this is who we are and what we believe. Until we’re blue in the face and then some, that’s how often we have to repeat these stories. The Jesus we’re giving our lives to is a Jesus who did these things. Tell these stories and tell them again.
The Pharisees were big on watering down their food and their religious lives. They spent three years watering down Jesus’ ministry. When we water down Jesus, it’s all about us and our needs (a need to be in control, a need to determine who is in and who is out, a need to decide what our faith should and should not mean for those around us) and has nothing to do with following an embodied Jesus. It may have everything to do with the church and what the church finds palatable but nothing to do with the actual Jesus. Does that make us Pharisees? No. However, it sure puts us standing too close for comfort. We can step back. Jesus doesn’t need to be watered down. He’s just fine.
Oh, and weak gravy, it’s no better than brown water. Biscuits need thick gravy.