Throw him out! (No not Trump; Jesus!)

14 04 2017


More and more I am becoming convinced that I have a choice to make.  Every day it seems as though I am being asked to decide between the ’empire theology’ that is so prevalent in our nation, or to truly walk in the way of the Christ.

The way of Jesus is the way of peace; never violence.  I am reminded of that on this Good Friday, 2017.  While it was not part of the plan for Jesus to resist the Roman cross, he certainly could have chosen to do so.  But at the heart of the Gospel is love — and so he pushed, challenged, forgave, and even resisted, but he did so peacefully, until the very end.  Even though it would cost him his life, he would never compromise the message that violence is never solved by more violence.  And that conviction would ultimately nail him to a wooden beam.

Yet the nation that I call home is once again taking itself to the brink of war: sending Tomahawk missiles into Syria, dropping the MOAB on Afghanistan; and now beating it’s chest and threatening North Korea with military action if they do not do as we say.  Our elected leaders, from the President on down – and ‘on both sides of the aisle’ – seem to believe that violence is best met with violence, and that the best defense is an aggressive and bombastic offense.

So I have a decision to make.

The way of Jesus is the way of generosity; never selfishness.  This too comes to mind on this holy day, for it is the day that Jesus generously gave his all to the will and way of God — even when that meant losing his life to the powers and principalities of the world. His life modeled a generosity of love, mercy, grace, and peace; all in an attempt to display that all creation exists in the very heart of God, and that we are all one.  Life, and living, are simply not merely about what is best for me, what profits me, or what benefits me!  In fact it’s not about me at all.  It’s about us.  And generosity with all that we have and all that we are, is what our followership is ultimately about.

Yet I live in a nation that, as of late, seems to think that being great is about a return to the days when people thought only of themselves — the good ‘ol days, when we didn’t worry about the poor not being able to afford going to the doctor, when we didn’t need to think about the rights of our Muslim neighbors, or when we didn’t need to think about our gay friends’ freedom to choose who to love.  The selfish, ‘me generation’ mentality, seems to have returned with a fury; and today it’s all about what I can get, what I deserve, and what I am owed.

So I have a decision to make.

The way of Jesus is the way of truth; never fear.   When Pilate asks Jesus ‘What is truth?” — it is as though he is throwing up his arms in frustration, confused by a world where everyone seems to think their opinion is fact.  But for Jesus, there is only one truth!  Jesus!  He — his way, his love, his goodness, and kindness, and compassion, God’s way — is the only truth there is.  And anything else claiming to be is an impostor, an evil masquerading as something that it will never be, that it CAN never be, regardless of how many people may embrace it.  And for anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus, his way is the ONLY way.

Yet I live in a nation where fear is running rampant.  And people don’t even know it! Someone once said that FEAR is “false evidence appearing real”, and that certainly applies to the America we see today.  People are wont to embrace all kinds of theories and ideas, many of which have no grounding in reality, but rather are simply fed by a fear of those who look different, who believe different, and who behave different.  And that fear has led, and will continue to lead, away from greatness; not towards it!

So I have a decision to make.

Will I give in to the violence, selfishness, and fear that abound this Good Friday.  Or will I instead choose the way of Jesus — the way of peace, generosity, and truth?

The answer is actually an easy one for me; for my ability to choose the later comes from the privilege that has been granted to me by the ’empire’ that I am so quick to critique.   I know this.  But Jesus says that “to whom much as been given, much will be required.”  So I will continue to resist, and challenge, and call to account those who would worship another god.  And so too must we all — at least if we really are going to allow Jesus to be Lord.

And if we’re not, well then let’s just throw out the whole “Jesus thing.” Because it means nothing.

His way is very simple; and there is no way for us to weasel out of his commands to be peacemakers, to give extravagantly, and to embrace the truth of his holy way.  We have no choice but to love, unconditionally, all creation; and if we’re not going to do it, then let’s just throw Jesus out with the religious bathwater called American Christianity.

Let’s certainly not show up in worship this coming Easter Sunday; because it would be hypocritical for us to proclaim that he’s alive.  Because he’s not.  If he’s not living in us; then he’s not alive at all.  So our cries of  “He is risen indeed” are empty and hallow proclamations, that mean nothing, and accomplish nothing.  Easter becomes nothing more than a reason for brunch.   And to be honest, who really needs another slice of ham or jello salad?





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