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Rebel Jesus


Satanists are going to school.

In response to Christian groups distributing Bibles to public school students in Florida, The Satanic Temple says it will follow suit with literature of its own. Their activity book has a coloring page of a young girl sitting in her study filled with “Satanic literature and philosophy” and a connect-the-dots puzzle to form an inverted pentagram. According to their website, The Satanic Temple does not “promote a belief in a personal Satan” but sees Satan as a symbol of “the Eternal Rebel,” a quote from the Russian anarchist, Mikhail Bakhunin:

“But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.”

Rebel JesusSatan was, indeed, a rebel–but then again, so was Jesus. He confronted the hidebound religious authorities of his day, challenged fruitless traditions and wouldn’t give Pilate the time of day when the Roman governor kept pressing Him for answers. In fact, Christ upset the apple cart so much that His enemies finally had Him crucified. 

The Jesus People of the 70s embraced this rebel Messiah, protesting pious traditionalism, promoting simple living and often banding together in communes. Today’s hipsters are also into the rebel Jesus. They eschew church buildings in favor of bars and coffee houses, push diversity and social justice causes, and sport tattoos and piercings.

There are times when I, too, want to champion the “Rebel Jesus”–mainly in an effort to make Christianity more appealing to young people or appear more relevant to secularists. But then I realize that Jesus did some really “uncool” things, too. He faithfully attended religious services (Lk 4:16), carefully observed ancient festivals (Lk 22:7-8) and uttered some politically-incorrect warnings that crackled with fiery judgment (Matt 25).

Which leaves me with this thought: it’s easy to hang out with the Jesus we like and agree with. But to embrace “Countercultural Jesus” or “Traditionalist Jesus” or “Non-Judgmental Jesus” casts a blind eye to the real and full Jesus–the One who never told us to be rebels for Him, but followers of Him. Serious discipleship might make us look like rebels to some. The goal, however, is to look like Christ.

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