The State of Christianity vs. Jesus

I've been more than grieved about the state of the Christian Church in the US for quite some time, but it seems that lately, my grief has turned into what can only described as righteous anger.  

Fr. Richard Rohr wrote about righteous anger this way: 

Anger is good and very necessary to protect appropriate boundaries of self and others.

So, with this in mind, and from a place of righteous anger, I've got a message for Christians worth sharing.  

And the message is simply this: 

Suppose Jesus showed up today, preaching the messages he preached (the ones found in the Gospels of the New Testament). If that happened, the majority of Christianity would denounce him as a radical and summarily dismiss him. 

To put it another way, in the words of songwriter Todd Agnew: 

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet

This message is true for Christians drawn into a form of Christianity that has lost the plot regarding following Jesus.  

But it's also true for those struggling in our current culture to understand what it means to be a Christian committed to following Jesus in an age when that seems to have fallen out of fashion. 

The form of Christianity that has come to dominate the Christian landscape in the US isn't grounded in any kind of Gospel reality. It's grounded in triumphalism, nationalism, and aspirations for power.  

None of these can be found in Jesus' teachings, his life, ministry, mission, and, ultimately, the reason for going to the Cross.  In fact, as Barbara Brown-Taylor puts it, 

Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion – which is always a deadly mix. 

It feels to me some days that far too many of the very people who claim to follow Jesus in our culture most likely would have screamed for his crucifixion or plotted it if they'd been there in his.  

Brown-Taylor goes on to offer this warning for a Christianity that fails to see this clearly: 

Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God’s will – from their own. 

The truth is that there is a "more excellent way" to live the Christian life, and many of us are trying to embrace that way of living. Thousands of faith communities are doing their best to embody the Christ found in the Gospels. 

They might not make the news or make the rounds on social media, but they are quietly, faithfully doing everything they can to embody Jesus. They eschew triumphalism in favor of selfless service, nationalism in favor of loving acceptance, and power in favor of humility. 

They aren't afraid of getting blood and dirt on their carpet, and they are absolutely committed to serving the world instead of vice versa. 

I'm proud to serve one of those communities. If you don't have a place like that to call your spiritual home, find one. Let me know if I can help. 

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.  


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