I went to bed last night with two words ringing in my head.
They were the same words that greeted me that morning, the same words I wrote about yesterday ("If You Want To Be Happy"), and the same words I heard echoed during the day by J.B. Phillips in his book, Your God Is Too Small.
First, the words . . .
Second, the echo from J.B. Phillips . . .
Phillips, a contemporary of C.S. Lewis and John Stott, spends the first half of his book debunking the "small gods" of our human making: The Resident Policeman, Grand Old Man, Meek-And-Mild, God-In-A-Box, Pale Galilean, and Managing Director to name a few.
Here is a snippet of his work as he pushes back on the idea of "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild":
Why "mild"? Of all the epithets that could be applied to Christ this seems one of the least appropriate. For what does "mild," as applied to a person, conjure up to our minds? Surely a picture of someone who wouldn't say "boo" to the proverbial goose; someone who would let sleeping dogs lie and avoid trouble wherever possible; someone of a placid temperament who is almost a stranger to the passions of red-blooded humanity; someone who is a bit of a nonentity, both uninspired and uninspiring.
Phillips proceeds to list all the "un-mild" aspects of Jesus:
- He challenged and exposed the hypocrisies of the religious.
- He walked unscathed through a murderous crowd.
- He was regarded by the authorities as a public danger.
- He could be moved to violent anger.
- He deliberately walked toward the cruel cross.
Phillips ends this diatribe against the idea of a "soft and sentimental" Jesus with these words:
Jesus Christ might well be called "meek," in the sense of being selfless and humble and utterly devoted to what He considered right, whatever the personal cost; but "mild," never!
Those who might be offended that their idea of cuddly Jesus just had the stuffing ripped out of it ought to read Revelation 19:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war with justice. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. 14 The armies that were in heaven followed him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. 15 A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. 16 And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Revelation 19:11-16 CSB
Yeah, I'm not getting the "mild vibe" from that picture.
Now to the application.
As I went to bed last night I still had that phrase "Study Christ" going through my head. So as I rested my tired head on the pillow, the cares of life whirling about, I reached for my Bible and these words:
I am more than conqueror (comforted and encouraged and readied for all that comes my way) because my God is NOT too small. The Rider on the white horse -- King of kings and Lord of lords -- who will conquer and rule the nations, has made me so. You too!
- "Many men and women today are living . . ." from Your God Is Too Small by J.B. Phillips. Vol 16. The Christian Family Library. Grand Rapids: Family Christian Press. Page 8.
- "Why "mild"? Of all the epithets . . ." from Your God Is Too Small, page 27.
- "Jesus Christ might well be called . . . " from Your God Is Too Small, page 27.