Displays of a Distorted Gospel: Activist Jesus

Day 14

Club Jesus will probably always be around. But the glistening burst on the horizon is the draw towards more than that. We tire of the old religion and the Sunday club gatherers. We want our church to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

We get that this world sucks. We get that there are needs, children starving, the sex trade, homeless people, disease, and oppression. We are only a mouse click away from discomfort. From a news story or post that makes us squirm a bit in our upper middle class homes while we change the channel on our flat screen TV’s.

Homelessness and the church

And maybe we’re sick of averting our eyes, and maybe we are beginning to realize that our purchasing power has a say in the global economy. Maybe we’re realizing our lattes could add up and we could put a realistic dent in a major world problem. And maybe we realize we have a voice, and that the first step towards making a difference is to raise it in outrage, to denounce our passivity and take a stand for something.

I am a bit of a rah-rah type, who would gladly find a soapbox to shout from on the need for this and that. I can find a cause anywhere because my temperament always wants to dig into things. I am always looking for ways to make things better and my feeling side emotes heavily all over the place. It’s messy and I can be exhausting.

Passionate is a mild term for someone like me. Ranting sometimes fits the bill a bit better. And it’s in this place that I find I lose the gospel so easily.

I’ve seen churches who witness on street corners, serve the homeless, deliver meals, take in young pregnant girls, and a plethora of other ministries. And that is amazing. Because I do believe that at God’s heart is justice for the people He loves and that means mercy from the people who are obedient to Him.

I am not in any way against ministry, in fact, if it’s lacking, you don’t have a true gospel because we minister out of the overflow and God’s grace and love naturally pour over.

Did you get that? If our faith doesn’t move us into action, there’s something missing. And I know this.

But here’s where we sometimes skip a very important step. Sometimes we realize our faith is lacking because we do feel stagnant, unmotivated, unloving, and when we find ourselves there we decide to be a better Christian.

We choose to, “Be the change we want to see in the world,”but the change that is powerful enough to transform the world doesn’t happen externally.

True change is an internal thing that occurs when God replaces our hearts of stone with hearts that beat wholly in sync with His. And when we go out into the world that beating heart naturally moves out of His grace.

But when we go out into the world with our hearts of stone still leaden and heavy in our breast and try to be the change without true transformation, we fall short, we burn out, we become embittered with those who are not on our bandwagon. We judge, we misuse scripture to try to motivate our brothers and sisters to action, and this spurring on is not done in love but in pride. An arrogance that we caught the vision and others are still lagging behind. And God is not honored when we are not walking in the spirit.

We can minister out of ourselves, and even get a lot done. But God doesn’t really need our help. does he? If he wanted to fix it all in an instant it would be so. He invites us to partake in Him and in doing so, we are fully equipped to do the things He’s called us to.

The problem with those who profess their adherence to Activist Jesus is that they are leading the way with Christ in the shadows. They see a cause, and much like Simon Peter swinging his sword furiously at what appeared to be the enemy, they cut at the wrong thing, severing what God was meaning to heal and redeem, never truly seeing God’s whole plan; that in the coming hours a new way of grace would be born in blood.

Activist Jesus wants action. He wants those passive Christians spewed out and He wants ones who will vigorously make plans and accomplish things. He wants box checkers and list makers who will pat themselves on the back when the task is done.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 ESV

Activist Jesus doesn’t require solitude and seeking, he requires strength and solidarity with a cause.

But Jesus didn’t die for a cause. He died for a connection.

Just to be totally clear on the subject. I am not saying that if you are involved in good causes that you’re not living or accepting a true and right gospel, nor am I negating our responsibility to serve wholeheartedly as Christ did.  This is something that only The Holy Spirit can show you.

I am saying that we all have a tendency to want to do something and sometimes our focus becomes more about the results than the relationship. There are many amazing ministries that are the hands and feet and heart of Jesus and I love to advocate for them and serve in any way possible.

I just know that I need to keep my heart in check so it stays close to God and doesn’t venture off into just doing it myself. Do any of you struggle with trying to do things out of your own strength? 


  1. Laura says

    Absolutely. I have been taking part of a Faith Evangelism program at our church every Thursday night for the past 5 weeks. I think my biggest struggle is to let go of the control I think I have and give God the opportunity to work through me. I am nervous I won’t know the answers to questions they may ask. I am afraid they are going to reject the gospel we are sharing with them. It is totally out of my hands who we encounter and what may happen and that scares me to death!

    You are exactly right about being “a better Christian”. For years I have been part of various ministries because there was a need or because that was the “right” thing to do or maybe because I felt God had given me talents to use in a specific area. What I didn’t always realize was how often I was operating in my own strength. I didn’t need God’s help – I could handle it all on my own. When good things are done with the wrong motivation, it does lead to bitterness and burnout.

    It is easy for me to work with a group of small Sunday School kids. It is easy to work in the nursery. It is not so easy to share my faith sometimes with complete strangers and risk rejection. God has me in this place right now to teach me to rely on Him, to trust Him and ask Him for wisdom in what to share. He wants His strength and power to work through me, not for me to constantly rely on myself.

    Thanks for keeping things real, Alia. I enjoy reading your posts.

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing, Laura. Yes, that is exactly right. It is so hard to face that rejection,especially when we know we are sharing life. It always makes me think of how God must feel when He offers me Him and I am too busy or I ignore/reject Him in my own small ways. You’re right that we have to offer ourselves with open hands because we don’t save, we can only be obedient and we have to leave the results up to Him. Praying God protects your heart and empowers you to do the things He’s called you to. Thanks for being faithful to that, God will use you.

  2. says

    Wow…!!! Your question “Do any of you struggle with trying to do things out of your own strength? ” get’s a big resounding YES from me… I am in constant struggle to keep my posture lower, because it’s from this vantage point that I can see God’s greatness. Results are awesome but results without relationship, without God? That’s just numbers… and other than counting the hairs on each person’s head God wants more than numbers from us… Tonya

    P.S. I love the analogy of the stone/heart – coincidentally that is the name of my blog Stone to Heart (I may, in fact, be stating the obvious LOL)

    • says

      I love that analogy too and that was the first thing I noticed when I visited your blog. That scripture has been a point of healing for me over the years as He replaces my stone heart with His. Love that!

  3. says

    Activists who want to transform the world at first feel good about themselves (often the main motive for “activisting”) and eventually complain a lot about a stubborn world (that refuses their brilliance and help towards a higher place in this life). The ministry Jesus taught and lived was not out to transform the world; it was to begin a new tiny (mustard seed) kingdom of disciples, who would faithfully pass on his teaching and joyfully continue his acts of mercy all over the world–and be hated by all the nations. Only humble hearts and gentle souls focused on their king (Lord) will remain true to his lowly, persecuted way, the narrow path that in the end ends up in higher heavenly places. The last shall be first.

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, I think that service can often have selfish motives and be used as a form of self promotion for ones ideals, godly or not. But I agree that the whole idea of transforming the world is often an egocentric reaction to the problems faced today and one of the main reasons people are all in or all out when it comes to service. Either the reward is too small or the task too big to attempt. And if the glory for those endeavors isn’t granted to them, they end up with frustration and a judgmental spirit.

  4. says

    Oh, yes it is easy to get caught up in dong things in our own strength and to focus more on the results than the relationship. That is why community is so important. Being with a group of like-minded believers keeps us accountable and helps keep us from trying to be the “lone ranger.” And I love the community of bloggers who pose thought-provoking ideas – like this post!

    • Alia Joy says

      I agree wholeheartedly. I believe community is where we live out our relationship with Jesus. It’s the place that tests our hearts and motives in many ways. That’s one of the main reasons I’m so intrigued by church and community because it is rapidly changing form and I wonder where it will end up. There are so many dialogues about church going on and I love that we don’t have all the answers, we have to seek Him.

  5. says

    Having grown up in a minister’s home, I totally understand how the disconnect can happen without even realizing it. It’s so easy to get caught up in doing that you miss out on that important connection. I get this.

    • says

      Yes, so you might even be more sensitive to this kind of thing growing up in the church. It is easy to do the right thing with the wrong motives. It’s always about our hearts. And they can be deceitful if we don’t guard them.

  6. says

    Alia Joy,

    Nice to meet you. I am hopping over from last week’s Scribing the journey link up. Thanks for delving into this topic of choosing to serve people in Jesus’ name, but wanting to male sure that we don’t lose sight of our relationship and intimacy with him in the process. Did I get your gist right?

    Have a great week.

    Jennifer Dougan


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