What if some contemporary Christians are getting Jesus all wrong? That's the question at the center of Pastor Dharius Daniels' new book titled, "RePresent Jesus" — a text that promises to paint a picture of Christ that "people will want to follow."
Daniels, founder of the Kingdom Church in Ewing, New Jersey, told TheBlaze recently that he believes there's sometimes a disconnect between the Jesus that many Christians are taught about and the Jesus who appears in the Bible — a scenario that can lead believers astray.
The pastor said that the image of Christ that manifests in many believers' minds is often colored by individuals' own desires of what they think or want Jesus to be like — a paradigm that is predicated upon assumptions surrounding how the Christian savior would react to certain contemporary issues.
"I believe that disconnect exists, because in many Christian circles the emphasis is so much on his death — which is important — but I think equal attention is not given to his life," Daniels said. "So we really don't know what he was like."
As an example, the preacher noted that he would have given very nebulous terms if someone asked him to describe Jesus' character before reconsidering his understanding of Christ.
But he said mere terms aren't enough, as one must explore Jesus' actions and interactions in the Bible to truly understand how to look at at him through a contemporary lens.
"If you take John 8 — the woman who was about to be stoned … what I did in my time of study was look at that and ask myself, 'Now who is this woman today, because she's got a private moral failure that's become public knowledge?'" he said. "Well, this could be the latest politician, pastor, coworker who drank too much at the Christmas party, [or] the boy or girl who did something crazy at the prom."
From there, Daniels said he had to ask himself whether his own response in those contemporary situations would mirror Jesus' — or the pharisees'. In the end, he said his primary goal is to show readers Christ's true character.
"No matter what stage you are in your spiritual journey [I hope that] this book represents Jesus to you on some level," he said. "That it paints a more accurate picture of the Jesus of the Bible, because that's the Jesus we're supposed to represent."
Daniels said he was inspired to write "RePresent Jesus" after experiencing a spiritual plateau — one that got him thinking about how he wasn't truly experiencing joy in his life.
"I'm analytical, logical by nature and I was just reading some of the things that Jesus talked about … and the type of life he came to bring us, overflowing joy … the spiritual rest that we would find," he said. "And, frankly, I was reading about a life in scripture that I was not experiencing."
Pastor Dharius Daniels (RepresentJC.com)
Daniels said that he stumbled upon Romans 8:29 one day while reading his Bible — a verse that talks about Christians being predestined to be conformed to Christ's image. It was that text that he said served as a wake-up call, reflecting "almost like a mirror" his real challenge: to show others what, exactly, that image looks like.
The preacher said that he realized he had "minimized spiritual growth" in his own life by equating merely sinning less with growing more spiritually — a dynamic that he said was simply not accurate.
More than merely making him more moral, Daniels said that God also wanted to make him more like Jesus.
"I knew that [Jesus] had died, but I didn't know necessarily how to live like him. I started studying the gospel to see what he was like," Daniels said. "How did he do relationships? How did he manage life? What was he like?"
Those questions led him into a six-month sermon series on the subject and, in turn, he translated his teachings into "RePresent Jesus" — offering questions that he said believers can ask to try and live more like Christ in their everyday lives.
Find out more about the book here.