One reason why we think that all conflict is wrong is because of how some people handle conflict. They yell the truth about a situation when often a bold calmness while proclaiming the truth gets the job done better.
PC: When people hear about a tough Jesus, their mind sometimes goes toward the preaching of hellfire and brimstone. But this isn't what you mean. What part of Jesus are you talking about?
MG: I’m mostly referring to Jesus’ courage, boldness, speaking the truth, confronting evil. But part of speaking the truth is to remind people — when the occasion is appropriate — that there are real and lasting consequences for ignoring Jesus, one of which is eternal separation from God.
PC: You write that those who are accustomed to “Jesus meek and mild” will be frightened at first by Jesus Mean and Wild. Why?
MG: Well, they won’t recognize Him at first. He’ll seem like somebody they don’t know, and they won’t know whether to trust Him. But if they hang in there, they will soon recognize that the tougher Jesus is the same Jesus who invites those who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him for rest. What we all have to learn is that Jesus’ love comes to us in a variety of ways; sometimes it feels good; sometimes it doesn’t. But if we give it time, we’ll see that many of the things that didn’t feel good were really means of God shaping us, preparing us, disciplining us, loving us.
PC: When you think of Christians who exemplify Christ’s tougher-yet-virtuous side, who comes to mind and why?
MG: I tend to think of two universally recognized “saints” of our era. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his courage to stand up for African-American civil rights. Mother Teresa, and her daily and hourly tenacity to comfort the dying. I think of the many people who have been fighting against abortion. I think of those who put on uniforms to defend their country against vicious enemies or to defend their communities against crime and violence. I think of the alcoholic mother who has vowed to give up drinking, and the busy father who has decided to give up a promotion to be a stronger influence in his family. I think of both large and small acts of courage and truth-telling.
PC: I have written about how following a Sweet Savior hurt my life. What’s your personal experience with following a sweet Jesus?