Modern Christianity can seemingly work magic. It can be made to serve our deepest desires. It can It can even Bring Left and Right together as politics fails to do!
How is that possible, you say?
Christendom has become a sophisticated, multi-billion dollar industry, complete with Mega-Churches that fulfill every need and desire. It's become, for many, a set of easy and easy-to-accept beliefs that make little or no demands on its members.
And for each and every interest group or belief, Christianity is flexible and its doctrines fungible enough to be made to “fit” every belief and whim.
To the Religious Conservative, Christianity is EASY! Just say the right magical formula - a "Salvation Prayer" - believe that the ancient creeds say what must be said to ensure eternal salvation, have an emotional experience in church each week (where we go to hear great bands, too) and that’s it! Nothing else is required of us by God. And don’t you let anyone DARE try to tell you that you should be “good” or follow “commandments,” because rules and work restrict our freedom, and salvation cannot be EARNED by us. Right?
To the Religious Liberal, Christianity is EASY! Just be polite to other people and express a vague “Love” to everyone, and that’s all that’s required by God (however we choose to personally define this “God” figure, if we choose to define Him/Her/It at all.) And never mind all those mean "commands" Jesus spoke about. He just wants us to crush our political enemies and be political and social activists in his name. Right?
To the Businessperson, Christianity should have ROI, a Return on Investment. Every dollar put into that collection plate should be shoveled back into programs we can see in the church building – programs for my teen, my preteen, my spouse, myself, support groups for my divorced parents, rehab support for my uncle, and a great music program for us all. We need to get what we pay for, and WE are the audience. Right?
To the Televangelist, Christianity promises ease, comfort, wealth, and success. God and Jesus promised all these things and more, if you only look in the right (cherry-picked) Bible verses, and if you buy the latest self-help CD from the TV ministry for $149.95. That’s how we will force Christ to come back and smite all our enemies. Right?
To the New Age fan of the “Secret" and the Word Of Faith crowd, Christianity’s God can be made to act like a magic Genie. If we wish for something really, really hard, we get it from the Universe, because we deserve rewards – and deserve them here and now!
And what’s the Universe (“God”) for, if not to satisfy our every need, wish and deeply felt desire? God’s Universe can be manipulated to acquire new clothes, a new car, perfect health, jewelry, riches, fame, and of course, sex with a fully compatible mate. That’s how the Universe works. Right?
So, what’s wrong with all this? Why NOT believe what these members of modern-day Christendom believe?
- Jesus said, unambiguously, that we must obey the commandments and do Good Works in order to be saved for eternity. (Mark 10:17-22)
- Jesus specifically said mere words and vain professions would NOT be enough to secure eternal salvation. (Matt. 7:21; Mark 6:7; Luke 6:46; John 3:19-21)
- Jesus called out and censured the Rich and preached against their greed and excesses, and said those who loved riches more than God should give up their riches and repent. (Matt. 6:19-20, 19:21; Mark 7:22, 10:25; Luke 6:24, 12:15)
- Jesus had no place to lay his head, let alone a fancy multi-million dollar sanctuary in which to preach. (Matt. 9:20; Luke 8:58)
- Jesus said we must give God 200% of our love and devotion, not just our platitudes and lukewarm friendship. (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27)
- Jesus said we must love our neighbors not with niceties, but with EXACTLY the same love we give to ourselves, and nothing less. (Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31)
- Jesus said people would hate those who followed him, would spit on them and persecute them and even kill them, as they killed him, which is far from promising ease and comfort. (Matt. 5:12-13; Luke 21:17)
- Jesus specifically said that he was Chosen, Anointed, and Sent out by God to preach repentance from sin, not to act as a militaristic, enemy-slaying General, either then or any time in the future. (John 18:36)
But these facts of the ministry of Jesus are only problems if one wishes to follow the actual teachings of Jesus – the teachings that he said would never pass away; the teachings which Jesus said would lead to the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth and eternal life after we leave it.
If we care about Jesus, and claim to follow him and use his name, we must start actually listening to his words, and we must renounce Christendom and its arrogance, greed and lies told, and believed, in the name of Jesus, God’s Anointed One.
Who’s ready to become a Jesus Follower?