Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The American Idolatry of "Jesus"

         The Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ around whom the gospel is centered was a humanitarian. He stood against oppressive men, empowered the needy, healed the sick, disagreed with slavery, and pioneered women's rights. Not to mention, he died on a cross for the salvation of mankind. Is that Jesus, the amazing savior who is all God and all man, the Jesus most "Christians" worship today, or is modern "Christianity" more and more like the legalistic dogma he spoke out against?
         Idolatry is worship of an idol, a false god. If anyone worships a version of Jesus that is not the true Christ, wouldn't that constitute idolatry? If we claim to be compassionate but forsake the destitute, needy and sick in the name of Jesus, we are not following Jesus. The meeting of physical needs was one of Jesus' big things. True religion should look like helping widows and orphans, homeless people, victims of neglect and abuse, the disenfranchised and undefended, those without a voice and keeping ourselves free from the negative influences of the world. That is not to say stay away from "lost people" or "the sinners"; but, in fact, to acknowledge that we were all once lost before Christ found us. We've all sinned, we were "the sinners" redeemed only by our choice to accept God's love. We still mess up, still sin, but God separates us from those sins and forgives us. None of us are good in God's eyes except through the sacrifice of Christ.
         "Christians" literally means little Christs. So if somebody claims to be a Christian I really hope they are trying to become more like Christ himself.
          The Devil is the Father of Lies, so he constantly deceives and many also deceive themselves about their relationship to something they believe is Jesus. Christianity is not a hobby for the weekends. It is a holistic lifestyle which must be chosen and then lived out 24/7. Bear in mind, like all relationships, a relationship with God is difficult and requires time and commitment and a willingness to struggle through the hard parts.
          If Christ is used as a figurehead, a political or social device to back our personal opinions, feelings and issues, that is wrong. Christians should not conform to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Neither should they seek to make Christ conform to any political party or social movement's ideals. Christ's words come directly from God, and he was not political.
          He is used to "declare war on sin" but really to attack people who are different, who are not mainstream. His name is added to statements to hate Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, homosexuals and deviants. That is not Jesus who spoke with a Samaritan woman, the implication of that meaning that he a Jewish man spoke to a culturally shunned, thought to be inferior person with love and respect that would have offended most of his peers because she would be "unworthy and unclean." That is not the Jesus who spoke to the adulterer, the pagans, had dinner with the hated and rejected tax collectors and prostitutes.That is not the Jesus who said, "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you."
          He did not hate people. He did not hate government officials who belittled him, not the religious pious hypocrites who felt threatened by him and the change he represented who used their power and authority to abuse people in God's name, not his friend who betrayed him to his killers, not even the guards who actually executed him. Instead he forgave them and asked his Father to do the same.
          A version of Christ that tells us to be violent and hostile, attacking, humiliating or killing in his name is not Jesus, Prince of Peace. Blowing up abortion clinics, picketing a funeral and slandering the deceased, the crusades, all of these are evil acts done by evil men and women in the name of Christ, but it is a false Christ whom they represent because the true Christ said that people who came with swords truly did not come from him. He came to offer redemption not condemnation.
          A Jesus Christ who is used to sell a version of the gospel that promises an easier life to Christians, physical health, wealth and prosperity, the same Christ used to stuff the pockets of greedy men with much selfish ambition, is not in any way the Jesus Christ who had no place to lay his head, whose followers were tortured and beaten, imprisoned and executed all out of love for him. That does not represent a sovereign God whose ways are greater than our ways, who created us for his own pleasure, who allowed Job to suffer, who allowed Joseph to suffer, who allowed Jonah to suffer, who allowed even Jesus himself to suffer in order to show us the depth and width of his love.
           The true Jesus embodies love, selflessness, humility, mercy and purity. He is holy, all God and all man at the same time. He is an amazing mystery and he desires a relationship with every soul on earth; he wants to know us and be known to us. He had compassion on a broken world, wanting so much to rescue the people he loved from a broken system. He opposed materialism and consumerism, rejecting the things of the world for the things which are eternal but never gave up a chance to serve humbly, meeting the physical needs of the people around him as well as their spiritual needs. He spoke only truth from his Father. Any Jesus different than that or less than that is no Jesus at all, the small "Jesus" is nothing short of an idol fashioned by sinful men; trivial, fleeting, and worthless.
          Be wary of anyone who comes in Christ's name who does not resemble the True Jesus at all. Because the True Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can get to God through any other "Jesus".

1 comment:

  1. I agree, the early Christian faith didn't even allow symbols in their places of worship. Now you can't find a church without the face of christ stuck on the wall. The idea of making Christ into a 'thing' makes his ideology fall into the shadows. Now the symbol of christ can be tainted by agendas which have no relation to the Christian faith and sometimes are opposed to it.