Jesus Was a Disappointment

Recently a friend told me, “I used to think you were so together and perfect. I was just in awe of you.”

“And now?” I asked with not a little trepidation.

“Oh, now I know that a lot of the time, you’re just as messy and clueless as the rest of us.”

Yes! I thought to myself. I’m making progress.

See, I’ve learned that the kingdom of God is not built by perfect people. Perfect people spend most of their energy trying to maintain their own perfection – or at least the illusion of it. This is what I did for years until I realized something about Jesus.

Jesus was a huge disappointment for many people.

For centuries, the Jews had anticipated the arrival of their King, their Messiah, their hope of salvation. They had studied the scriptures, watched the stars, researched the signs and planned for the arrival of the embodiment of their hopes only to find out it was the kid who grew up down the street who had built the kitchen chairs they kept in the front room.

Him? He used to play with my son. Nothing special about that kid. My kid can run faster and he’s a head taller than Mary’s son (who we all know was conceived before the wedding). No way, that kid’s grown up to be the Redeemer of the Jews!

And Jesus continued to disappoint throughout his life.

He disappointed the crowds by refusing to perform miracles on demand. He disappointed the religious leaders by breaking rules they’d created and held dear (OK, and they didn’t like being called vipers). He didn’t seem to appreciate any of their efforts at being religious. He disappointed the Zealots who had waited for a king to come to reign – to lead the overthrow of the Roman oppressors. He disappointed his friends every day by talking to the wrong people, messing up their schedules, having no regard for public opinion and not showing up exactly when they needed him.

Jesus always seemed to be listening to only One voice and it wasn’t any of theirs.

So, He lived His life knowing that He would disappoint people on a daily basis. Important people. Connected people. People that He loved. People who followed Him.

His death was a spectacular disappointment.

From the cross, He must have seen their emotional devastation, their dashed hopes, a disappointment in Him that seemed cataclysmic, unbreachable, final.

So, why have I spent so much of my life so worried about disappointing other people?

This really bad habit leads me to take on activities, relationships and pursuits that have nothing to do with what God wants me to be doing. They aren’t usually bad things to do but they are not what I am supposed to do. How do I know that? Because people around me say things like “You can do everything!”, “Is there anything you can’t do?”, “You are always so together.” “How do you do it all – I know I never could.” These are warning words that I’ve gotten off course, that I’m wasting valuable kingdom energy trying to appear in control.

I’ve learned that if I’m not disappointing anyone, that’s a sign that maybe I’m busy doing many things I shouldn’t do. Maybe I’m more devoted to the illusion of my own perfection than to building the kingdom of God. Maybe I worship “having it all together”, “staying on top of everything”, “leading a balanced life”.

Jesus always had strength for the day. Did you notice that? There’s never a time when you hear Jesus scream “Well, if I don’t do everything, I guess that nothing gets done! I’m starting to lose it people! I’m really losing and if I don’t get a break soon, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.” Yeah, double check me on this but I’m pretty sure He never said anything like that.

Because, Jesus was not afraid of disappointing people. He lived for the approval of One – His Father. And He earned that approval “This is my Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

I’ve learned that sometimes God DOESN’T give me strength for my day and that’s usually because I’ve planned a day doing things that have nothing to do with His plans for my day. Isaiah 30:1a says: “‘Woe to the obstinate children,’ declares the Lord, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not mine

I’ve disappointed many people in the past few years. That’s because I’m finally listening to what God has to say about His plan for me and I’ve begun to pry my fingers off the idol of “pleasing others.” I definitely have lapses but God sends me a signal – usually it’s when I hear someone say “How do you do so much?” Oops, I think. Better check in with my Father.

I was going on and on about Jesus one day to a woman I know. Late in the conversation, she casually remarked that she was Jewish. (I had brilliantly not figured that out from her last name.) “You’re Jewish!” I exclaimed. “You’ve just let me go on and on for an hour about Jesus!”

She laughed. “Honey, most of the Christians I’ve met are sweet and have it all together. You are anything but sweet and you’ve got problems just like me. I figured if Jesus loved you, maybe I had a shot with Him.” Aahh, the accidental evangelistic stumbles into truth once again.

Jesus disappointed people. Have you disappointed anyone lately? Maybe it’s time.

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    The Conversation

  1. Jennifer says:

    Yeah, uh, I’m going to be thinking about this one… 🙂

  2. Thinking is good. Thinking with praying is better. 🙂

  3. Phoenix says:

    LOVE IT! “For this purpose I came!” That’s what He Love it!

  4. Thanks, Phoenix. How are you?

  5. Nardalyn says:

    Well said. Your words hit way too close to home, Lori! Thank you.

  6. Greg says:

    Good point. Careful not to let yourself be too imperfect, else those around might say, “She claims to be saved, but she’s no different from us. I knew that Jesus was a phony.” When He is in your heart, people SHOULD notice something different about you. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

  7. I think what’s important is to let myself be who I am and as the imperfections are brought to light – to bring those to Christ to be changed. Hiding my imperfections actually makes me a phony. We need to not just look different from unbelievers, we need to actually be different – that’s what will bear the light. Fake fruit melts in the heat.