A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"We Like Jesus and Not the Church, Because We Don't Know Jesus"

The title of this post is a quote from Jonathan Storment in an excellent post published over at Jesus Creed. Jonathan writes,

To be sure, Jesus will offend different people in different ways.  The wealthy of the world will take offense at the teachings on wealth, or the command to the Rich Young Ruler.  For the conservative people Jesus' radical redefinition of family and family values is offensive.  Or for the progressives, Jesus' hard line stance on things like marriage and divorce, or the protection of children, are really bothersome.  Jesus will offend everyone!

Just when the pacifists think they have understood Jesus, he makes friends with soldiers, and tells the good religious people that the Roman centurion has more faith than all of them.  For the nationalist, or those in the just-war camp, Jesus tells them to love their enemies, and for Peter to put away his sword, and then ultimately dies at the hand of warriors.

I like Jesus, too, most of the time.  But have you ever noticed how many offensive, confrontational things Jesus says that we never talk about in Church?

The truth is, that Jesus was loving, but He wasn't just loving, and certainly not just loving as the way we define it today.  If the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was to really become a man, He would have plenty to say that offends different cultures at different pressure points.  If God, the God of the Bible, was to enter human history, he would confront the idols that each person was worshiping, not just to confront them, but because their idols were robbing them of God-given dignity and God-given calling.

I know that all of us have caricatures of churches that come to mind, maybe the church that picketed that funeral and held up those hateful signs.  Or maybe of the preacher that made the news because he said that thing about Muslims, or against abortion, or single moms, or whatever.  But I run in circles with lots of preachers and church leaders from lots of different backgrounds, and that is not anywhere near an accurate representation of 99% of churches in America.  I wish that someone would start taxing the news every time they mentioned the Westboro Baptist Church, as if that church was in any way indicative of the rest of us. 

We like Jesus, but not Paul, but Paul is trying to take the way of Jesus to the street. He is taking it from the ideal to the real, so he will constantly make concessions, even as he raises the bar on the culture's pagan norms and Jewish regulations.

If you read through all of Paul’s letters, you will find a man who writes tear-stained letters, encouraging his people wherever he can find something to encourage, and calling them to love and forgive each other.
The entire post can be read here.

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