Survey after survey shows that while people of all backgrounds and religious views generally have a high view of Jesus Christ, they also tend to have a relatively low view of his followers.
Most serious Christians, however, would advise looking to Christ first instead of his followers in order to get a decent handle on what following Jesus is all about.
Of course, “looking to Christ” suggests that one can determine what he was like. This information is found in the four Gospels. In order to gauge the character and personality of Christ, one must come to grips with the four Biblical portraits that were drawn by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
It has been said that “God created man in his own image, and man returned the favor.” As it turns out, many who profess admiration for Jesus Christ often do the same thing.
After cherry-picking sayings or events from the life of Christ that square with their preconceived ideas about him, they then discard inconvenient passages that challenge those views. While many are fine with the idea of Jesus as a moral teacher, they balk at his claim to be divine and one with God the Father. (John 10:22-30)
C.S. Lewis noted, “You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
Ultimately, all must wrestle with the question Jesus posed to his disciples in Mark 8:29: “Who do you say that I am?”
THE REV. ED REES IS THE PASTOR OF ST. ANDREW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AUGUSTA.