Shunning the Conventions of "Niceness": On the Importance of Being a Smart___ for Jesus
By Derek Penwell
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus lately.
“You’re a minister. You should be thinking a lot about Jesus.”
No. Yeah, I get that. What I mean is that I speak/write about following Jesus all the time … as if people automatically know what I’m talking about when I say it. Turns out, they don’t always know what I mean by it. Heck, sometimes I don’t always know what I mean by it.
Consequently, it seems important from time to time to think it through again, to seek to capture what it was Jesus was trying to do all those years ago, hitchhiking his way around the Palestinian outback. It strikes me that his friends, for the most part, haven’t done him any favors, painting him as unfailingly “loving.”
“But he was loving.”
True, but a lot turns on how you define “loving.” Jesus appears in the popular imagination as the chief proponent of Frank Burns’ famous dictum that “it’s nice to be nice to the nice.” Jesus as proto-flower child, spending his time roaming the countryside tossing off bon mots, throwing impromptu picnics, and patting toddlers on the head.
All this bucolic itinerating raises a question, however: If Jesus was so nice, why did anybody feel the need to kill him?