How to make an icebreaker awkward1
“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
- Luke 7:23
“And in Jesus …”
- from The Apostles’ Creed
Imagine you go to a conference for your job and the organizers of the conference begin with a lame ice-breaker. “Pick three words to help people get to know you better,” they say. If you picked “family,” “dogs,” and “faith,” what sort of response do you think you’d get?
Now imagine you picked “family,” “dogs” and “My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Awkward silence ensues.
There is something particularly scandalous about naming “Jesus” in our culture and context. “Faith” is generally acceptable, but get specific and people will feel uncomfortable. The name of Jesus can be polarizing, offensive and confusing.
Why is it so hard to name Jesus?
Some of it has to do with people’s experience. Christians who’ve thrown Jesus’ name around have found ways to be publicly pushy, arrogant, closed-minded and ridiculous. Even if you never act like this, enough of us have that our reputation precedes us.
But this difficulty with the particularity of Jesus goes deeper than a PR problem. Human beings prefer an Imaginary-Friend-God who always agrees with us and approves of us no matter what. We prefer this Imaginary-Friend-God to the God we get in Jesus. Jesus stands outside of our imagination and, therefore, outside of our control. He may make demands on us, may challenge us, may make claims on our time and our money and our lives.
Jesus knew he would be polarizing. Many loved and followed him. Many hated and rejected him. In his own lifetime people argued about who he was and how he should be received.
And the writers of this Creed knew Jesus was polarizing. Riots erupted when people preached in Jesus’ name. Persecutions broke out across the Roman Empire. Families were torn apart. And, yet, our forefathers planted a flag and cried out “I believe in Jesus.” And paid the price for their belief.
How hard is it for you to talk about Jesus? Where can you take a risk to name his name this week?