Monday, April 9, 2012

JESUS

~A Thought Provoking Spoken Word. You May Agree or Disagree 
- But Don't Forget to Think.~


I am aware there will be many who will pick apart what this young man has to say, but he is summarizing what a generation is thinking and asking. (Please read my earlier blog - Losing My Religion.) Newsweek had this cover for their "Easter Issue". When I saw the topic, I must admit I expected another attack on Christianity. However, when I read the article by Andrew Sullivan, I found it thought provoking and worth some time thinking about what he wrote.


The article was entitled, Christianity in Crisis with this being the sub-headline:
"Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests and get-rich evangelists. Ignore them, writes Andrew Sullivan, and embrace Him,(Jesus)"  


Andrew starts by referencing Thomas Jefferson's Bible. For those not familiar with it, Jefferson painstakingly cut out what he interpreted as the actual teachings of Jesus Christ. He then took those sections and assembled them into a smaller, different New Testament. He removed what he considered to be misconceptions of the teachings of Jesus. He referred to them as the diamonds in a dunghill. He referred to those diamonds as:


"the most sublime and benevolent code of morals 
which has ever been offered to man."




I am currently reading Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did and Why It Matters, by N.T. Wright. N.T. (Ted) Wright is an Anglican Bishop and professor of Theology. He believes we have completely missed the message of Jesus. I would highly recommend you take a look at his book. (I put a link at the bottom so you can find it)


There is a crisis hitting Christianity. As I said in the earlier blog referenced, we are losing our kids. We are losing them to "Spirituality" - that may sound good, but it is dangerous. While many are dropping faith to embrace a rational and scientific based atheism or agnosticism, others are looking to multiple disciplines of spirituality. Many have been drawn to Eastern teachings like Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga and others. Some are exploring Native American teachings and others the New Age. Jesus is seen as just one of a large group of enlightened teachers. 


One of the interesting aspects of this shift is that it is not congruent. Many of these disciplines actually conflict with the others. Yet, it appears to have become a spiritual smorgasbord; you pick what feels right, or resonates, and ignore the parts you don't like. The apparent contradictions don't matter, if it feels right - go for it. 


Now on the other hand we see the church. Wracked with clergy hypocrisy, priests abusing children and then hidden by the Catholic Church. Then there are the get-rich-televangelists; preaching to their flocks God will reward them if they can donate them them. Reports of huge mansions, private jets, fleets of limos and millions of dollars - not to the flock but to the pitch person who seems to be the only one prospering.


So is the church evil? Not necessarily. A few hundred years after the death of Jesus the church had a paradigm shift -- It became a political power. It is still a political power. With our election drawing near, we have contraception being discussed by Republicans. We even have the President quoting Jesus to justify his healthcare program. Churches and Christian para-church organizations are funding Super-Pacts to support various politicians.


Jesus was apolitical. He called on his followers to give up power over others. Having that power will eventually lead to the use of violence, and we have all seen how well religion and violence has worked out. Look at Jesus' final apolitical act:

  1. Jesus did not defend his innocence at trial.
  2. Jesus never resisted his crucifixion.
  3. Jesus turned to the men nailing him to the cross and forgave and loved them.
Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is made up of people who have surrendered to the will of God and have asked Him the reign in their hearts. Maybe, if we would focus on the Kingdom rather than  man-made buildings and corporate structures. If we truly decided to read what Jesus preached and lived it -- we wouldn't be losing our kids. The Kingdom says to love one another and even love your enemies. It calls us to forgive those who harm you. It calls us to find the best in people. It is the reign of God in your heart -- Yes, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU! This is where N.T. Wright's book comes into play.

The purpose of the church was to have a group to encourage each other to have that kind of heart. Let us lay aside the bickering over doctrine, the gossiping and maligning of others and religious elitism.

Let's Pray That God is at the Center of our Hearts
and that we can begin to act like Jesus.

Peace
~Al

www.allachner.com