Rejecting Jesus the Christian way

jesus2

I’m sometimes taken to task for pointing out that Christians don’t make much effort to live as their saviour says they should. The title of my first book, Why Christians Don’t Do What Jesus Tells Them To …And What They Believe Instead sums it up. Since the very beginning, believers have replaced the radical commands attributed to Jesus with mythology, mysticism and magic formulae, none of which he’d recognise and all of which are far less demanding than going the extra mile, turning the other cheek and loving enemies. So today, when confronted with what Jesus says is expected of his followers, believers are inclined to say, ‘what right have you to tell us how we should be living?’ to which the answer is, ‘it’s not I, nor any other commentator, who tells you how to live; it is your Lord and Saviour. All we do – all I do – is remind you of what that is.’

Christians don’t like this, primarily because they don’t like what Jesus commands – it’s too exacting, too radical, too impractical – and they want to go on disregarding it. It’s damned annoying being reminded of it and being challenged on how far they are from complying with it.

Have those of us who point out Christians’ failings any right to do so? Well, of course. Christians spend their time judging, castigating and condemning others and as Jesus himself points out, judging others leads to being judged in return (Matthew 7.1-5). He sees this as something of a natural consequence, a yin for a yang. But ‘judge not that ye be not judged’ is another of his commands his followers like to ignore. Even so, if Christians are going to insist on pointing out the speck in others’ eyes, they must expect others will have something to say about the plank in theirs. That’s the way it works – Jesus says so.

So, Christians, if you don’t like me and others challenging you on how far you fall short of your Lord’s expectations maybe you need to lay off atheists, LGBT people, those you consider to be sinners, those of other faiths and even fellow Christians you think haven’t got the right theology. Put your own house in order first and then maybe we’ll listen to you (or maybe not). But don’t say we’ve no right to look at how far you measure up to Jesus’ standards. We’ve every right to ask whether the so-called Salt of the Earth (Matthew 5.13) has any of its flavour left.

 

Call yourself a Christian?

jc-prays

So you think you might be a Christian? Try this handy-dandy checklist to see if you’re a true follower of Jesus or just someone who’s paying lip-service. You’ll need to score big if you’re ever going to get into his exclusive club!

1) Have you relinquished all worldly goods as Jesus tells you to in Matt 19.21 & Luke 12.33?

If not, better get to it. It’s pretty important to him – he mentions it at least a dozen times in the gospels.

2) Have you forsaken your loved ones, taken to hating them even, the better to serve him and his Kingdom?

No? Than what are you thinking of? Not Luke 14. 26 & 33 that’s for sure.

3) Do you constantly go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, give to all who ask, love your enemies and forgive others repeatedly (Matthew 7.12; Luke 6.27 & 29; Matthew 6.14; Matthew 5.38 etc)? In short, are you perfect as he says you should be?

Some work to do here then, to come up to the expected standard?

4) Do you sacrificially serve others – the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless, the hungry, the naked (Matthew 25.34-46)?

Better get round to it as the only way to avoid Jesus’ blacklist.

5) Do you work tirelessly and exclusively to bring about God’s Kingdom on Earth (albeit in the first century) like Jesus commands in Matthew 6.33?

Why not? Get with the programme!

6) Have you stayed single, never marrying, and certainly never getting divorced?

You haven’t? Shame on you, because you can’t into the Kingdom with a spouse and definitely not with one you’ve discarded along the way (Luke 20.34-35).

7) Have you given up judging others?

If not, you can expect to be on the receiving end of a hell of a lot of judgement in return (Matthew 7.1-2).

8) When you throw a party do you invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind instead of your friends (Luke 14.12-14)?

I think we know the answer to this one.

9) Are you tireless in denigrating, campaigning against and ranting about same-sex relationships and marriage?

Well, good for you though this has nothing to do with being a follower of Jesus (see 7 above).

10) Do you believe in a magical incantation that is going to preserve the essential ‘you’ in Heaven forever?

Jesus didn’t.

So how did you do? Are you someone Jesus would say, ‘Well done you good and faithful servant’ to (Matthew 25.21), or would he insist he never knew you (Matthew 7.23)? –

0-2: Pathetic, especially if the two in question are 9 & 10.

3-7: You’re neither hot nor cold. Expect to be spewed out of his mouth (Revelation 3.16).

8-10: You’re getting there, but then, you didn’t really answer truthfully, did you? Your yes didn’t mean yes (Matthew 5.37).

Never mind, you can always get back to singing songs, waving your arms about and condemning others because they have a speck in their eye (Luke 6.42). Everybody knows that’s what being a Christian is really all about.

What Jesus should have said…

KnockLists are the thing, aren’t they. It’s time we had some on this here blog thingy.

List 1. 10 things Christians pretend Jesus didn’t say:

1. Treat others as you like to be treated (Matthew 7.12)

2. Forgive so that you’ll be forgiven (Matthew 6.14)

3. Don’t judge unless you want to be judged (Matthew 7.1)

4. Sell all you have and give it to the poor (Mark 10.21)

5. Turn the other cheek (Luke 6.29)

6. Go the extra mile (Matthew 5.41)

7. Give to all who ask and lend without expecting anything back (Luke 6.30 & 35)

8. Love your neighbour as much as yourself (Matthew 22.39)

9. Love your enemies (Luke 6.27)

10. Don’t worry about the future (Matthew 6.34)

If Christians followed these injunctions, what a very different world it would be. Instead, what do we get..?

List 2. 10 things Christians think Jesus should have said, but didn’t (with a few examples):

1. Show love for others by telling them what sinners they are (1, 2)

2. Stand on principle as much as you can (1, 2, 3).

3. Take easy offence (1, 2)

4. See persecution everywhere (1, 2, 3, 4)

5. Sue those who upset you (1, 2)

6. Demonise those who don’t share your world view (1, 2, 3, 4)

7. Hate homosexuals and oppose same-sex marriage (1, 2, 3)

8. Set yourself up as defender of God’s standards (1, 2)

9. Argue endlessly about points of doctrine (1, 2)

10. Obsess about the future and the state of the world (1, 2, 3)

This is the Christianity we’ve got. Well done, o righteous ones, for perverting Jesus’ radical (and yes, ridiculously impossible) message into this unsavoury concoction of mean-spirited self-centredness. It’s what he wouldn’t have wanted.

 

Why_Christians_Don't_Cover_for_KindleMy book Why Christians Don’t do What Jesus Tells Them To …And What They Believe Instead looks at how Christians ignore most of what Jesus says in favour of a Christianity of their own making. You can find it here in the UK, here in the US and on Kindle. Go on. You know you want it.