Culture has a way of coloring the world around us much like wearing rose colored sun-glasses. Too often we see Jesus through the lenses of Western culture. George Bernard Shaw said, “God created us in his image, and we decided to return the favor.” It could be if we are serious about tracing back our struggles to their core the trail may lead back to one basic reality—our view of Jesus. To test this reality this weekend read one of the gospels from beginning to end, and ask yourself does my life and my church reflect the values the gospel writers recorded about Jesus.
Let’s just start with a few simple leaps of faith to start: Healing, demons, the Kingdom, money, hell, and crosses. Are you comfortable with a healing Jesus? Do you really believe in spiritual warfare and struggles against principalities of darkness in the heavenly realms? What is your church building—the Kingdom of God or “Six Flags over Jesus”? Was Jesus serious when He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven? (This should scary Americans spit-less since we represent the richest of the rich in the world today consuming more on ourselves in a day than most people on this planet have to exist on for a whole week, and in some cases a month). Do you believe in hell—eternal separation from God? Jesus did. What about the cross? Do you believe in a cross to die on or one simply to decorate a sanctuary or your neck?
In Matthew 10, Jesus said, “Do you suppose I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword.” For many in the western church this statement rings foreign and out of context to the world in which we live and the Christianity we promote. Jesus was much more confrontation than most of us want to admit. He was a revolutionary that could only be stop by force as far as the establishment was concerned. The Jesus of the gospels did not come to set up stagnant institutions, but rather to launch a movement that would bring the reality of the Kingdom of God to the doorsteps of the masses.
Shane Claiborne wrote in his book The Irresistible Revolution:
“We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor”.
It appears the break down may go back to our marching orders. Jesus commanded His followers to “make disciples of all nations”…. “teaching them to obey everything.” Our Sunday School and ministries have been masters at teaching knowledge by lecture, quarterlies, and videos. We must remember followers of Jesus were not called to be “students” but to be “disciples” who “obey” everything not know everything. If we would just do what we know to do it would make a world of difference, but sadly we don’t.
If we are going to reach out world and keep our kids in church, we are going to have to move past lip-service to the values of the Kingdom and start living them out on a daily basis. It is time for Jesus to mold us into His image rather than the other way around.