Recently I was listening to an ESPN podcast (Bill Simmons with Chuck Klosterman) in which the two hosts debated whether bringing one’s 5 year old daughter to an NBA game was appropriate. Klosterman then made a helpful point: The NBA is at its worst when it attempts to get people to like it who do not normally like it. Whether it’s the contrived contests during the breaks, the pop music going off in the background, or the creepy guy who says “The Laker girrrrrrls” (okay, I added that one), it’s all distracts from what’s actually there: a basketball game.
Klosterman briefly mentioned that this might be applied to other areas of life, including religion. And I think he’s right. Now, this seems weird coming from an evangelical pastor, I realize. We encourage people to “share” their faith all the time. But the idea of being willing to let Jesus stand on his own (without our “improvement”) is something very similar to what Jesus said: “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” (Matthew 10:14)
I desperately want people I know to become fascinated by Jesus, and I would go to great lengths to do so. But change him? Improve him? To paraphrase Meatloaf: “I won’t do that.”