The most polarizing idea we’ve encountered with the Jesus Does platform is the Jesus didn’t or hasn’t section. Non-believers often support the entire Jesus Does concept as soon as they hear there’s a space for stories of disappointment. On the other side, many people have strong convictions that (1) Jesus does respond to every prayer and that it’s not our place to label the outcomes, and (2) a platform dedicated to honoring and thanking Jesus should not invite critiques that may lack theological or heart-posture integrity.

This is a topic we take seriously. These are important differing perspectives. You’re invited to offer input. A few points we’re reviewing and waiting to see what happens.

Pre-Doctrine Experiences

The first point we consider is that we’re talking about “pre-doctrine” experiences. We want Jesus stories, witness testimony, not the teaching points that follow. (Those points are great, just not at Jesus Does.) We reject stories where someone is preaching or speaking ABOUT Jesus rather than TO Him with a 5-star review. Likewise, we’re not offering space for a 1-star review that sounds like “I don’t like Christianity because…” We’re only seeking stories of experiences.

We hope we’ve found a simple way to work around these polarizing ideas. We’re encouraging people to begin any story is as a statement addressing Jesus, as in “Jesus thank you for…” or “Jesus, why…” That way, any story is still a direct statement to Jesus, and is also an invitation for Jesus to respond. This, as opposed to a conclusive statement for or against Jesus that isn’t open to a response.

Defining a Jesus Story

On the first day of prayers where Jesus was describing what a Jesus story is, He highlighted two things. The first is that a Jesus story is about Jesus – He’s the star of the person’s testimony. The second was that He wanted to be considered in the context of the Cross, or His current glory. The Cross is far easier to convey and for most people to remember, so we focus there. The context of the Cross conveys more spiritual authority, and meets people in ways that teacher or healer cannot.

Jesus in the context of the Cross has a greater ability to rightly orient and silence petty complaints.

This is not a power flex. It’s more like letting a person off the hook of leveling charges they can’t really manage. Sort of like God asking Job “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)

In more common terms, it sounds closer to:

“I don’t like Christianity.”

“Take it up with the guy over there, bleeding out His wrists.”

Sometimes the best gift we can receive in our grumbling is a reminder of who He is and who we are. Jesus on the Cross has that effect. We are invited to heap whatever else we might upon Him while He is there, but most of our complaints or accusations that He has done too little quickly fall silent.

Meeting Jesus in Our Pain

So, we wondered, what will happen if we offer that button, that invitation to share a story of what Jesus didn’t or hasn’t done? Can anyone who has that disappointment push the “record” button and start a sentence with “Jesus…” without completely falling apart and ending up giving Him their grief? And if a person CAN offer a live disappointment, is it possible doing so is a confession that will lift a burden and rekindle a connection with Jesus? We don’t know. Our hope is that most people get to the moment when the button is presented to them, and they fall to prayer … truly moving from a social media mindset to a vertical media (or media-less) moment. How does a person’s perspective change when they’re invited to speak the hard words?

Hope in the Dare

Is this an area, we wondered, where doctrine and theology are especially important in a person’s life? So many people encounter tragedies that feel so obviously wrong, so unjust, so contrary to the obvious order of things … can anyone make their way through it without some sort of structure for how to go? Does inviting someone to give voice to their disappointment, their crushing grief, open them up but leave them all alone? Maybe. Frankly, the sense of duty of care – to protect those who risk with us – feels similar here as it feels if someone from a mostly-closed country shared a video and possibly opened themself up to physical jeopardy. What’s the testimony worth? Do we put God to the test when we leave the protection up to Him, or is this exactly what He invites?

The Really Polarizing Idea: is a Dare Disrespectful?

Finally, the mixing of tribute of Jesus Does stories with the possible discouragement of stories where Jesus didn’t or hasn’t. Is the end result a theft of His glory in our praise?

Undoubtedly gratitude and praise are a direct positive. And a sincere request for consolation or understanding invites an intimacy from Jesus. But what of the idea of a diminished net glory from this platform?

What We’re Testing

Here’s where we’re at right now.

(1) throughout the Bible, we see God pursuing relationship and intimacy even when the pursuit not only diminishes the glory shown Him (as though even our unified best efforts would be worthy of Him) … so we believe His continuing longing is for relationship

(2) no question the Lord is worthy of all glory and honor, and yet it seems as though He continually pours it out or is not especially motivated by it

What Does Jesus Value About Glory?

Here’s the biggest polarizing idea in our whole exploration. Is it possible the primary reason God welcomes glory is that we would fail to adore Him without it? That we would fail to love or even consider Him for His love and desire toward us, apart from His greatness and power?

When we reached this point, He was so beautiful to us that all we could say was “thank you, thank you, thank you,” and we decided to err on the side of inviting all relational opportunities, and we rewrote the Jesus Does invitations in a way to turn most negative or doubting positions into questions that would elicit specific testimonies of His goodness and generous activity.

We’ll see how it goes. We’re watching this aspect of the site closely, and we’re hoping for stories that begin in one direction but pivot in radical moments when the Name of Jesus is spoken by a broken and contrite heart.