I see a lot of people are getting turned off to Christianity, the Church, and Jesus because of Christians. I read an article yesterday that said that the top 3 perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. I logged onto facebook and saw a number of statuses that alluded to the fact that Christians had blown it for Jesus and the rest of his followers this week. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a slew of frustration at Christians, sadly, it seems to be a regular occurrence.
And I’m sitting here at my computer crying as I try to find the words to express how much this breaks my heart. I wish that somehow, people wouldn’t rule out Jesus because of His followers. I also wish that somehow, we as Christ’s followers, would follow Him better and closer, and that we would point to His goodness, not turn people away to His goodness.
I guess I’m feeling extra emotional about this today, Good Friday, as I think about Jesus and the significance of the cross. I’m emotional because I need the hope that comes from this weekend, and I know a lot of people who need this kind of hope.
I have known about Jesus my whole life. I grew up in a Christian home with preacher parents, and an active youth group. I went to a conservative Christian college and I married into full-time ministry. I have been studying Jesus my whole life, and this is the Jesus that I know:
* He is humble
* He is loving
* He is a good listener
* He is intentional about relationships
* He hung out with those that society had discarded as outcasts; those that were “too sick”, “too weird”, and “from bad families”. He hung out with men and women, tax collectors, prostitutes, those that didn’t look like him, and those that didn’t share the same moral compass as him. Jesus was a friend of the marginalized, the progressive, and the taboo.
* He dropped his biggest truth-bombs and sass on the religious folks of the day who thought they knew it all, and were so focused on preserving rules and tradition that they missed the point entirely.
The Jesus that I know came to welcome everybody into the family: Sinners and saints. The Jesus that I know pointed out that nobody’s perfect, and challenged the religious snobs of the day to look to their own shortcomings before pointing out everyone else’s.
The Jesus that I knew loved the sinners and saints in His life, and through his example, friendship, and truth, challenged them to give up their old selves, and follow him. Jesus was a friend of sinners.
The Jesus that I know died a gory and brutal death on a cross, so that he could take on the punishment that we all deserve. Through that act, the Jesus that I know made it so that we could be made new. The Jesus that I know took away all the pomp and circumstance, all of the religious rules that kept people out of the family of God. He made a way for us to come to Him.
The Jesus that I know worked miracles. He brought hope and life and clarity to those who had lost all of that. He brought healing and freedom. He made relationships right. He changed lives. The Jesus that I know makes all things new.
The Jesus that I know didn’t draw lines in the sand. In fact,the only time he is recorded writing in the sand, he is baffling and disbanding a crowd of high and mighty rule-followers who wanted to stone a woman who was caught in a sex scandal. “Let he without sin cast the first stone” said Jesus (John 8:7). The Jesus I know is baffling. The Jesus that I know is not ok with his followers judging others. Jesus came so that we wouldn’t have to be the judge, despite how many times we wish we were.
The Jesus that I know spent more time loving people than debating politics. Jesus didn’t spend time arguing laws and policies or disagreeing publicly with Caesar, because Jesus wasn’t interested in Caesar’s policies, but in the hearts of His followers. Jesus came to bring a cultural revolution that was so different than any previous revolution – political or otherwise, his revolution would be one of love, forgiveness, sacrifice, healing, and compassion.
Church, in the Holy Moments of this weekend, let’s remember who our Jesus is and what He is about in the world. Let’s hold steadfastly to the important things, that we are all in need of the cross and forgiveness. Let’s be about the business of reconciliation and healing. Let’s acknowledge that our sins of judgmentalism, shaming, control, and alienation held Jesus to the cross on this day 2000 years ago.
If you’re reading this, and you don’t believe in Jesus, or you aren’t sure about Jesus, but you’re sure as sure can be that Christians are the worst, I want to say (for what it’s worth) that I’m sorry that we get the Message mixed up. I’m sorry that I’ve drawn lines in the sand, sorry that I haven’t been welcoming, sorry that I’ve judged. I need to be reminded every day of who Jesus is, and what He has done for me, and I forget often.
I am still a sinner, even though I believe in Jesus. I need His grace all the time, every day. That’s why the cross is so powerful. That’s why I cry when I take communion, or sit in a Good Friday service, or write a blog like this. I don’t deserve Jesus’ gift, but He gave it anyway. To me: The jacked up, judgemental, anxiety-ridden, gossip. To you. To us.
Please don’t rule out Jesus because of me and His other followers. Jesus is God, and He is perfect. I am not.
The Jesus I know is worth a chance.