The true light, which give light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him, But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.John 1:9-13 NIV
The definition of the word renegade is: a person who deserts and betrays an organization (religion) or country, or set of principles. So was Jesus a renegade? It is certainly an unusual combination of words, Renegade Jesus, but the concept behind it can be immediately understood when we look at how Jesus went against the grain.
Jesus was all about turning things upside down…
Jesus’ ministry overturned cultural norms, it challenged the authority of the times, and undermined the establishment. The son of God was a trouble-maker (in some ways), he was unorthodox, a modern day nonconformist, and wanted to shake up the establishment.
The Jesus of the Bible is not the gentle shepherd portrayed by modern churches who seem to enjoy presenting a watered down version of Christ and His message. Christ came to awaken people to the problems of complacency. The Jesus of the Gospels was a defender of the unrepresented, the poor, the sick and those who were outcasts of society. He was warned but nevertheless he persisted, He opposed the status quo both the rigid legalism of Jewish law and military might of The Roman Empire.
God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s time to shine!”Luke 4:18-19 MSG
Jesus disobeyed the Jewish purity restrictions by having contact with lepers and the disabled. He upturned the Old Testament code by teaching a new way of understanding God in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:38). Even today, speaking out against “an eye for an eye” is considered unpatriotic, foolish and subversive. Nothing much has changed.
But how can we forget Jesus’ followers—the apostles—those who rebelliously acted against the established authority of the of day, and followed a man who claimed to be the Son of God. They were the first Christian Renegades, they trusted Christ with their lives, and following His resurrection and final ascension into heaven they started His church here on earth. They faced death, they challenged the status quo of the their time… we need to take a page from their book. We need to push ourselves beyond our simple and unchallenging faith, into an authentic and life changing relationship with the ‘rebel’ Jesus.
We, as contemporary Christians, need to reclaim our renegade status; we need to live abundantly, obediently, counter-culturally. We need to dive heart first into a deeper, life-altering walk with God, radically shifting the paradigm of Christianity that has been plaguing the Church for Centuries. Jesus did come to start a revolution, and today we can be part of that revolution, or we can remain complacent Christians and miss the opportunities afforded by becoming a renegade follower of Christ. To do this we will need to challenge ourselves. We will need to let go of the Jesus of our collective imaginations and accept Him, His reality, His Humanity, and His divinity. The gospels tell a story of hard truths, denial and death-to-self. There is suffering, persecution, and a major reprioritizing of the lives of those that followed Jesus that happened. We need to go back to the basics and live a life that is counter-cultural, we need to be the Apostles’ of the modern age.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”Galatians 3:28 NIV
The modern church needs to wake-up and return to their first love: Jesus. We are not called to complacency but to a radical lifestyle that imitates the life of Jesus. We have a mission to make disciples who demonstrate the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
Ultimately, Jesus was executed as a rebel by the establishment, who found him too great a threat. The God of the entire universe chose to be killed as a criminal on a cross, hanging between two felons. It was the ultimate act of renegade love and vulnerability. And that one beautiful act changed literally everything…
What is most striking to you about the way Jesus began His ministry years? Jesus didn’t seek to impress the Pharisees’. He didn’t try to become a Jewish rabbi in the sense that he wanted to go to a Yeshiva (rabbi school). He didn’t show his miracles to the Jewish lawmakers in hopes of gaining their favour. He bestowed His ministry, His teachings on you and me. The everyday person was given the gift of ministry with the Son of God. He wanted to impress us. He wanted our approval, our trust, because he knew we were the future of His kingdom, the future of His legacy here on earth.
Jesus repeatedly extended His hand to all types of people. In what ways do you need to be more like Him? Who do you struggle to welcome? I have in the past suffered with some social anxiety, and consider myself an introvert, so I struggle to met new people and put myself out there. I am admittedly pre-judgmental. I have to either want to get to know you in order to like you or I have to force myself to be your friend. I judge most people I meet. I need to be more like Jesus and be less judgmental of the people I meet. I need to stop seeking character flaws. I need to cease looking for excuses not to be friends with someone. I need to be more forgiving.
In what ways are you a renegade for Jesus? In what ways do you need to become more of one? I am not really a renegade. Both culturally and socially belief in Jesus is mostly acceptable in my geographical location or North America. There are many ways that I can improve upon my faith and break out of the socially accepted norms of Christianity so that I can become a Renegade for Jesus. I need to rebel against the cookie cutter Christian façade and become more of an example for my family, friends, and for Jesus. I need to shed my judgmental self and done the heart of a modern day Apostle. I need to don my armour of God, take up my mantle of faith, and become a Rebel Christian going against the social norms of the modern age to live the life Jesus died for us to live.