Dr. Harry Kraus on How the Church Has Domesticated Jesus
- Thursday, October 21, 2010
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild? Or, have we forgotten how wild and untamed the Lord really is?
Dr. Harry Kraus, missionary and author of Christian fiction and non-fiction, believes the Church -- particularly in America -- has gradually taken crucial missteps that result in miniaturizing and muzzling the One who is mighty to save.
Crosswalk.com caught up with Dr. Kraus while he was home on furlough to talk with him about his latest effort, the somewhat-radically titled, Domesticated Jesus.
Crosswalk.com: Dr. Kraus, where did we even get the idea -- if we even did it intentionally at all -- that in our culture we could "domesticate" this Jesus who in the Bible would not be tamed, pigeonholed, or contained?
Harry Kraus: Great question! I mean, obviously we want our [audience] to understand that you cannot fence Him in. You cannot tame Him. You cannot domesticate Him. You cannot contain Him to a box. But what I mean by this phrase "domesticated Jesus" is just something that I do in a thousand different ways. Perhaps, maybe in my worry, I am acting as if this Jesus, who is powerful enough to have spoken and stars happened, is small. I am acting as if he is not big enough to solve my problem.
How did we get here? I am going to blame that one on Adam, I guess. From the get-go, even in this beautiful plan of the gospel, we want to turn it around and make Jesus into someone who is a servant to me. It is all about cleansing my sin. Come on in to my life, Jesus. Clean up my sin mess but then just kind of sit quietly over there. And I will give you some time once a week, but I want to go about running my life myself, and you just come in on my terms. I get to be in control. That is what "domesticating" him is.
CW: You mentioned Adam's sin, and in your book you talk about the different ways we domesticate Jesus through a lot of our own sins, failings, shortcomings, or frailty. Recognizing that frailty, do we try and bring the Lord down to our own level? HK: I do not think we mean to but, yes, we do. And I do this all the time. I use the example of anxiety. When I am an anxious Christian, if somebody is looking at my life—and unfortunately, I am the only gospel that some people see—what is it telling them about the size of my God? When I am a guilty Christian—I am walking around feeling bad for something that was taken care of and that has been forgiven—what is that telling other people about the size of the cross? It is telling them that it is small.
And so I address this in a very practical way in many, many chapters as not somebody on a pedestal telling you down there, "You guys that struggle with this…" No, this is where I struggle. I am only writing, Shawn, the stuff that I need to read. I write as an insider. Sure, I have been a Christian for many, many years. I have been a foreign missionary for years. I served as a missionary surgeon in a closed Muslim context. So I can write as an insider. I know that the American Church struggles with this because I struggle with this.
CW: How have your insights as a missionary home on furlough informed what you have written?
HK: Well, I think coming in again after having been out of the country for a few years, sometimes I realize how repressed we are in our worship. And I think, "Wait a minute. What are we here to do?" Let's think about that. Why am I yawning on a Sunday morning? Why am I not spending time in preparing for this event? We have been promised that where two or three are gathered, there is some special presence of God. I do not know how that works intellectually. I don't get that, but I just know that He said, "I am in your midst."
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