"What would you like to change about Jesus?" Asking this question created somewhat of a firestorm on my personal Facebook account recently. Some people said that they "cringe at the question" and others said that I was "inviting people to question God." But it was just a question. Answering the question "what would you like to change about Jesus", doesn't assume that you actually can or even that you intend to try. It is merely an invitation for you to consider how you might like to answer that question. It ought to reveal the way that we look at Jesus.
As the posts continued to come in regarding my initial post, it became apparent to me that many people thought that Jesus wouldn't or shouldn't tolerate such a question. But what if I asked my son a similar question about me? What would my son like to change about me? That is a scary question for me to ask because I know that he is likely to hit a real nerve in his answer, because I know of my weaknesses. Still the question would be valuable to me to find out how I can be a better parent and also to find out how my child is receiving my actions that are meant to be for his good. Obviously, the major difference here is that I am a fallible human being whereas God is not. Nevertheless, God is our Father and He cares about the perceptions of His children. Only when we can honestly confess those perceptions can we stand a chance of having them changed. I think God likes it when we admit our honest views of Him. Saying our thoughts out loud often helps us to see the errors in our thinking. In addition, there is the very important fact that whether or not we voice our thoughts, we still possess them. A person cannot be delivered from a problem that they don't know they possess. I would like to push back at the thought that this question is off limits. Why should Jesus be angry at this question? Didn't Jesus Himself ask "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?" Didn't Moses argue with God? Didn't David and Job challenge the actions and complain about the delays of God? Did God lash out at them or strike them with lightning? He did not. In Luke's Gospel, two of Jesus's disciples wish to call down fire from Heaven upon a Samaritan town that would not receive Jesus and Jesus rebukes them for it. My younger brother once pointed out to me that these two disciples reminded him of me and I had to sadly admit that they reminded me of myself as well. This is because this is how I thought Jesus should act. And I am not alone in this. All throughout the Gospels, Jesus is wrestling with the double focus of persuading the people and the disciples that He is in fact the Messiah, all the while carefully maneuvering around their preconceived ideas of what a Messiah should look like. Jesus was the rightful King of Israel but He wasn't going to allow the crowds to force Him to become King in their own image. Jesus constantly had to work to redefine Messiahship for Israel, but He was also deeply patient as He went about it. Asking the question "What would you like to change about Jesus?" Is no different than Jesus asking His disciples "Who do you say that I am?" If they had not given the answer that Jesus wanted, would Jesus have called down fire on them for blasphemy? I do not think so.
Nobody can change Jesus, but our perception of Jesus can and often does change as we get to know Him better. Thank God that He does not condemn us for not having all the correct answers as we get to know Him, but He is patient as He teaches us His ways. So how would I like to change Jesus? I wouldn't. But I would like Him to change me so that I might be more like Him. And I only change when the way I see Jesus also changes. I too need to see the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever, but I am not, thanks be to God. May we see Jesus changed before our eyes today, into what He really is all the time.