Jesus says some stuff in the inaugural speech of his ministry that really upsets the status quo of both the religious and non-religious. In essence, he says, “If you are to follow me as King of this newly inaugurated Kingdom of God, you will need to start loving your enemies as much as yourself. You will need to start getting creative in how you deal with your oppressors in order to choose the way of love and reconciliation rather than the way of revenge and contempt. In fact, when you live as peacemakers, you best reflect what it looks like to be children of God. Those of you that choose this way of life will be blessed.”
Jesus was a radical! There is no getting around that fact. Many of my conservative friends and their associated Christian denominations try to get around the fact that Jesus was a radical by pretty much ignoring much of what he said. They instead pick and choose those bible verses that seem, at least on the surface, to align with their current worldview. They hunker down in their pews ranting about all the sinners and such in the big bad world out there. They madly choose to only associate with others who think like them. They reject any change in their current way of seeing the world for fear that they will fall down an imaginary slippery slope into the abject sinfulness they see all around them. They choose to concentrate on their personal salvation instead of Jesus’ “love your enemy” mantra. Loving your enemies is a concept very foreign to them. In other words they are internally focused rather than outwardly focused.
In the kingdom of God that Jesus spoke so freely about, Christians are instructed to be peacemakers. In God’s Kingdom there is no ‘us” vs. “them”. We are all children of God, that means each and every soul on this earth. It seems many Christians today would rather spend their money building lavish churches with all the creature comforts rather than making sure no one goes to bed hungry. We would rather buy that second or third vacation home rather than support humanitarian efforts around the world. We would rather buy that luxury car rather than pay a little more in taxes to insure that healthcare is a right for all of us rather than a privilege for only those who can afford it.
How can so many of us be so blind to so much that is in our bibles? How can we pick and choose only those words that don’t make us uncomfortable? These are things that I am praying the emergent church movement will rectify. Someone needs to push us off the comfortable path of our own choosing and back on the path of Jesus’ teachings. Someone needs to show us how to love our fellowman and to make it clear to us that include everyone else. Jesus was a radical. How has his church become so conservative?