Monday, August 22, 2011

El revolucionario Jesús!

On my friend Hayley's blog, she writes in her "About Me" section that she wants to be inspirational like Jesus and Buddha.

I think that is really cool, and very revealing at the same time.

Jesus is inspiring.

Over two thousand years ago an obscure Jewish rabbi shook the foundations of the world as we now know it.

Today, you would be hard pressed to find a person who doesn't know his name (whether or not they know exactly what he was about), and the small collection of books written about him comprise one half of the most widely read book on the planet!

It is crazy to think that one person could have such an impact upon humanity.

That one single man could be so widely loved, hated, and known before social media ever came into being.

That one man could be the cause of a radical, revolutionary way of life; the kind of lifestyle this world had never seen.

Jesus was a revolutionary, without a doubt.

Maybe that is an interesting concept to some, because they are familiar with the "church-version" of Jesus.

You know...the white dude with a beard and a fishbowl around his head, sitting on a throne throwin' up some sort of hand sign that resembles the Boy Scout salute?

Docile.
Stoic.
Boring.

Jesus was nothing of the sort.

This was a man who quite literally challenged the dominant superpower of his day. He refused to acknowledge Caesar as god, which was a capital crime.

He challenged a religious establishment that became fat on the misfortunes of others. A "church", if you will, that many who live in the present day may be all too familiar with.

He associated with all, regardless of class, social status or lack thereof.
Can you imagine?

He talked with the outcasts as well as the religious elite! He talked with the diseased as well as the healthy! He spoke with those outside his ethnic and cultural group...which was absolutely unheard of!

When I think about exactly how counter cultural, and unconventional his style must've been to the power brokers of his time, it absolutely floors me. He is so damn inspiring to me; I want to be like this man!

It is in these moments that I really try to think of how Jesus would seem in my own culture and context.

Think about some of the the people that the institutionalized church treats as "lepers" or "untouchables" today...

The gay community.

The agnostics, atheists and those of various different faiths.

Satanists.

Evolutionists.

Those who cling to their safe little church world often hold these groups at arms length, afraid to reach out and touch them for fear of becoming infected; or worse, the institutionalized church tries to "reach" them.

Sadly, the terms "reach" or "evangelism" are new ways of communicating an age old concept, and that is to convert.

Conversion is a religious term that essential boils down to arguing, debating, coercing, or forcing someone to see things the way you see them. To conduct themselves in the way that you see fit or acceptable.

It is the reason the Jews of Jesus' day conducted themselves as they did. If you were not a Jew, that is, not one of God's chosen people, then you were not worthy to be associated with. The only way to have relationship with a Jew was to convert to Judaism, and even then the converts were treated to a certain degree as a second class citizen.

Racial, cultural prejudice.
Social and economic tiers.
An elite, and those who paid for the elite.

This was not what God envisioned for the people of Israel.
It is not what God envisions for the people of America.

That was why Jesus was so radical.

The gay community.
The agnostics, atheists and those of various different faiths.
Satanists.
Evolutionists.


Do you think Jesus would've spent time with even one of these groups?
I, personally, think that he would spend time with each and every single one.

Know why?
Because they're people.

God created them, just as he created those who profess to follow Jesus, or those who have grown up in church their entire lives!

This is why the early church was influential in such a big way.
This is why the message of Jesus spread like lightning, and resonated with so many people.
This is why the initial institution of the Jewish people as God's chosen, early on in the Old Testament, was so powerful.

These groups of people understood God's vision for the world, and they lived it.

But people forget...

Often.

People forget God's goodness.
They choose instead to live in a world of division.
A world of segregation.
People choose to be blind to the fact that the divine spark is written on the heart of every human on this planet.

It is the church's responsibility to identify this spark.
To be relational with all, just as this God, the very heart of the Christian faith is a personal, relational God.

So then...as a Christ follower, where does that leave me and, possibly, you?

I think that's a wonderful question to start with. :)

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Your ending question is very thought provoking. Especially since you just got done illustrating the difference between 1.)the gospel of Jesus Christ spreading like lightening because it resonated with the human soul, and 2.)the institutionalized churches approach at "reaching" or "converting."

I have to admit, I had never defined the word "conversion" like you did. :) you make a good point though.

It does however bring up a question. If people who were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, and felt of it's truthfulness were not converted, then what were they?

Perhaps we need a new word without the negative connotation. :)

Great post!