I read Nick Kristof’s article, Tussling Over Jesus, in the New York Times and was reminded of something my mother and grandmother would often say when I was growing up –
Some people are so heavenly bound that they can do no earthly good.
I practice my faith unashamed, but I am deeply ashamed of the politics of religion. Religious zealots would have us believe that there is no nuance in being a spiritual person. The church’s rules are unilateral, and if you don’t adhere you might as well say that you are no longer a follower of Jesus. I often wonder how many people who would like to have a closer relationship with God are completely turned off by the snobbishness, disguised as piety, of “God’s people.”
Well, I am a follower of Jesus, and I hate to burst the bubbles of those who live only to climb the next rung of the ministry, but He was a radical. He was breaking rules from the womb, and continued until He died. Here’s a short list of the radical, hippie acts of Jesus, scriptures cited.
1. Jesus was born to an unmarried woman. (Matt 1:18-25)
2. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, not just our countrymen (people who agree with our views). (Matt 5:43-48)
3. Jesus hung out with undesirable people. (Matt 9:9-13)
4. Jesus was not afraid to touch the unclean. (Matt 8:1-4)
5. Jesus openly protested against “the man.” (Matt 23)
A christian is a follower of Christ, not a follower of doctrine or rules that cannot bend for mercy. Some will disagree with me, saying that the rules are the word of God. I offer this rebuttal – the word of God was made flesh by the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus teaches us kindness, patience, goodwill, honesty, and acceptance of those who are different. Jesus teaches us forgiveness, and mandates that we spread the good news that God is love.
Are you judging people, or are you loving them? Are you comforting people with Jesus’s message of love, or preaching the wrath of doctrine? If you are not praying, fellowshipping, getting to know those people who could use the love and healing of God the most, then you are not following the example of Jesus. If you are all structure, and no nuance, then you have completely missed the art of Jesus. You have completely missed the dance of Jesus. You have completely missed that, for some people, myself included, this precious walk with Jesus starts simply with a song in our hearts.
Jesus said, “I assure you there is something greater than the temple here. If you understood the text,’It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned those innocent men.” (Matt 12:6-7)
Go out into the world, and do the Lord’s work. Spread the good news that God is love.