The headline offended me and I resisted reading. However, “what religion would Jesus belong to?” (NYTimes) spoke of a cultural Christianity gone to seed and drifting away from Jesus’ founding moral vision. We are a nation of religious illiterates. Half of us who claim to be Christians can’t name the four Gospels and 80% believe the Bible somewhere says “God helps those who help themselves.”
We have customized Jesus to fit our image, our ideas, and our politics. When a candidate responds “Why do I need to repent?” we should know the Gospels summarize Jesus’ preaching as “repent” (Matthew 4:17). We are so muddled, we miss the idolatry when a commercial superimposes football imagery with a soundtrack singing “glory hallelujah” or borrows “went to meeting last night and something got ahold of me.” That “something” is not school spirit but the Holy Ghost. We often display more passion and devotion to our teams, travels, politics, music, leisure, and exercise than to our Lord.
If our needs are not met, we seek another church that makes us feel better. We seek comfort, not confession or cleansing. In response to waning influence, churches seek marketing and management solutions. Worse than ignoring Jesus, we shape Jesus to fit our pleasures, ideas and schedules. We have so trivialized and compromised Jesus, it is little wonder that a third of millennials identify as “nones.” Are they seeing no “Jesus” in us?
Last spring I asked the staff to pray about our fall series. Theresa Johnson encouraged me to simply preach about Jesus, perhaps sensing our own biblical illiteracy. A culturally malleable Jesus may comfort us now, but one day we will face the real Jesus. That judgment gives me pause, and perhaps courage to become a “troubler of” TULLAHOMA (1 Kings 18:17).
Jesus is an iconoclast- who shatters settled ideas. An authentic encounter with Jesus unsettles our souls and shatters our treasured cultural idols. Let us stop ignoring or manipulating Jesus. To be our Lord, Jesus must rule over our everyday plans, patterns, politics, pleasures, and practices. From now until Christmas, in different 3 series, we will be exploring the parables, commands, and lifestyle of Jesus. “Come, Lord Jesus”, shake up our broken world. (Revelation 22:20)
Grace, peace, and some holy trouble