Would Jesus Be A Christian?
Have you ever taken a moment to wonder if Jesus would be a Christian?
Would Jesus enjoy our church services? If some Sunday he were to pop in and take a seat in the pew, would he sing the songs we do, listen to our prayers and sermons or would he storm the stage and turn over the tables and lectern chastising us for our false or half-hearted worship.
Jesus saved his harshest words for the religious elite of his time who thought they had it all together, doing what they thought God wanted them to, and excluded the very people that needed God’s love the most. Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
Jesus called and welcomed everyone, even the worst of sinners. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29) Jesus didn’t ask that people to clean up their act or perfect themselves before they could approach him. He didn’t ask that you say a magical prayer and doesn’t. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus was attacked for hanging out with sinners and the outcast. He was questioned about fasting and not keeping the Sabbath. He answered this way about fasting: “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. (Mark2:19-20) As for the Sabbath Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 2:27, 3:4)
Jesus lived and modeled what it means to be fully human. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) Jesus gave us the great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Jesus gave a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. The kind of love that Jesus is commanding of us is not the usual fickle, wavering, and conditional love we often dole out. We only love the people who love us, but Jesus loved everyone no matter who they were. We put conditions on our love—if you do this or that I will love you and if our wants, desires, and whims are not met we revoke our love.
Jesus loves us not for anything we could do for him. Jesus loves because love is what he is. He showed us love in dying on the cross for us. He loved the religious elite He called out. He loved the sinner and outcast. He loved the Roman soldiers. Jesus loved and loves radically, wastefully, and ubiquitously. He met and still meets people where they are and does not ask that they meet him where He is. We cannot love as He did and does, but with His help and through Him we can extend the same kind of love and grace that He lavishes on us.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Matthew 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24)
How often do we shape our lives by the teachings, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? There was a time when I didn’t even try to live in this way, but I now pray that God will continue working in me making me an instrument of his peace, love, and grace. I know I cannot do it on my own, but with Jesus, the impossible becomes possible.
Maybe, we should redefine Christians as those who love the unlovable, accept the unacceptable, welcome all no matter who they are, what they’ve done, what their failures, inadequacies, and shortcomings are. Maybe a Christian is (In Peter Rollins words) the one who forsake God for the world and thus who bore the mark God. The few who had discovered heaven in the very act of forsaking it. Maybe, Heaven will only have a few in it and maybe the few in it will not be the ones we expect to see there.
My prayer is that Heaven will crammed full of all sorts of people.
My hope is that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)
My fear is that Mark Twain was right when he said, “If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.”
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