Replacement Jesus

If, when you hear the word "Christian," you think of loud obnoxious people on the radio or TV spouting off about the evils of "liberalism," or if you think of a bunch of people who go to church on Sunday and give their money so that churches can get bigger and nicer buildings, or if you think of shallow people who seem to thrive on their own hypocrisy and you can't help but hate that sort of thing, just know that there are many of us who are serious about Jesus and his teachings who hate all the same stuff. I'm frustrated with all the same stuff that you are frustrated with and yet I am, I will say quite unabashedly, a Christian. They don't speak for all of us. In fact, I think their message might be, on almost every level, quite the opposite of that of Jesus.

What has happened in Christian circles is we have replaced the Jesus of the gospels with the Jesus we'd have preferred him to be. We would have preferred that Jesus violently opposed his enemies but instead he died for them. We'd have preferred that Jesus deny his body and blood to someone like Judas but indeed he served the Eucharist meal, or Communion, to him. We'd have preferred a savior on a white horse whom nobody could deny but instead Jesus came riding on a donkey and was indeed denied by everyone who "mattered." We preferred one thing and got another, so therefore we decided to create a whole new concept of Jesus--one informed by "end times" soothsayers with violent imaginations--a conception in which Jesus would condone violence, justify hypocrisy, turn a blind eye to oppression, and give the thumbs up to anything and everything "American." The Jesus of Television Christianity is a fan of the status-quo and a worker for the perpetuation of the patterns which make for our best individual comfort.

But when we look back to the gospels we find a Jesus who is much more compelling. The Jesus of the New Testament resisted oppression with loving sacrifice. He opened himself and the redeeming work of God to the poor and to the whole world. I hope that we can sort through our frustrations and find this Jesus, who will surely be new and fresh to us, standing on the other side.