Paul Yancy’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew, explores Jesus in ways some may not have thought. I have learned about Jesus at various retreats and camps. The biggest thing I gathered from Yancy’s book was the clash between being a Christian in God’s kingdom and an earthly member of society. The two “worlds” sometimes collide in teaching, laws, and media. To be a Christian in today’s world is difficult, but throughout history, being a Christian was not easy.
Yancy talks about the persecution that the communist countries such as Albania, the U.S.S.R., and China faced during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Christianity was forced to go “underground” and believers were constantly in danger of physical violence against them. Today, legislation has taken God out of schools, legislation, and government. Although debatable whether the United States was founded on Christian principles, it was founded by God-fearing Christian men who governed with Biblical values. Today the Church and state are “heading in different directions” (250).
An interesting point Yancy made was that Jesus could heal every person he met. There was no disease to great for the power of Jesus. However, he encountered many skeptics that would not accept Jesus as the Messiah. This shows the difference between the physical actions and the will of ones heart.
In chapter 7, Yancy talks about being Jesus being on the “offensive”. Today, Christians are often on the defensive against the secular world. We defend the actions of radical Christians or try to give answers to those who ask “why would God let this happen”. Recently, the horrific tragedy at Virginia Tech caused many people who ask what was God’s supposed purpose in allowing all these people to die.
The growth of God’s earthly kingdom is being hindered by “Christians” who do not live by Gods Word. These people are popping up in the news and on TV where millions of people can watch and listen to what they say and make judgments of all Christians. Extremists like Fred Phelps and their Westboro Baptist Church followers, people who blow up abortion clinics, and televangelists selling “miracle water” are portraying normal Christians in a bad light. They claim to be following Gods teachings, but act in extreme and. That is far from what Jesus would teach.
As a Christian on a secular college campus, my heart should yearn to spread the message to my classmates. Neglecting any of my own fears, I know I should spread the message of Christ’s love and sacrifice so that others may know and be saved. This is what I got out of Yancy’s book. Just as Jesus died so that all who desire to know Him can, so should Christians follow Jesus’ model. Matthew 5:44 says, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”