Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rant by Anonymous Prophet - "I'm Sick and Damn Tired..."

Below is a rant from a wise person who accepted my offer of an anonymous (and low-traffic, haha) forum in which to do some venting - but venting from which I believe we can all learn a thing or two. Enjoy. Comments welcome. And no, I will not reveal Anonymous Prophet's secret identity to you, so don't even bother asking.

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I’m Sick and Damn Tired . . .

I don’t know about you – but I’m pretty damn tired of the hoops they (and sometimes me) say we have to jump through in order to get to Jesus. At every turn, it seems, Christians gather to stand in long lines in order to add one more level of protection to a Jesus who apparently mistakenly thought that “all power was His,” thus not in need of our protection. For a prophet who seemed to relish hanging out with people who didn’t know what the hoops were, much less have any interest in jumping through them, we apparently relish taming Him beyond recognition.

Let me tell you why I that is so true.

If you happen to be trying to living out your faith in a middle class, suburban neighborhood, or are trying to discover a faith to live out in such a neighborhood, it helps a whole lot if your voting record is littered with candidates whose names have (R) after them. It makes no difference that those names with (R) after them may be talking “family values” out of one side of their mouths and planning their next tryst out of the other – they are saying all the right “Christian stuff,” whatever that is at the moment, and voting for them is a fast track to Jesus in the suburbs.

But if you happen to be trying to live out your faith, or discover a faith to live out, in a more urban, ethnically diverse neighborhood, make sure that the litter is made up of names with (D) after them, not (R). But like their double-first cousin (R) friends in politics, these people find it easy to offer platitudes about hope and change, while marching to an agenda that is mostly about getting power and keeping power. Why is it wrong, unchristian if you please, for a middle-class suburbanite tolerate a politician who is unfaithful to his or her marriage, but at least is against abortion; but okay for the urban church go-er to tolerate a politician who is sensitive to urban issues, but is willing to allow the near genocide of a generation of black babies whose lives never make it out of the abortion clinics of urban medical centers?

I’m not suggesting that one hoop is to be preferred over the other. Not at all. I’m sick and damn tired of these kinds of hoops and it is high time the church that truly belongs to Jesus have the courage to stand up and say “No more.” Take down the hoops – it is about Jesus. Jesus, period.

Despite the fact that we gather together as believers around Jesus for worship – at least Matthew 18:20 would suggest that is why we gather – we sometimes miss the connection between who this Jesus is and why we gather around Him. Think about how odd it is that we gather to worship a Jesus who told at least one rich, young man to sell all he had, give it to the poor, and then follow Him; but in so much of modern evangelical Christianity, non-capitalists need not apply. Though He said some things that motivated Karl Marx to be a Marxist – and though his earliest followers seemed to take him seriously about those things – we have found a way to make capitalism a pre-requisite to finding Jesus.

And were that not bad enough, there is a whole movement among Christians these days – a movement born in American televangelism but now circling the globe at warp speed – that puts this same hoop on the other side of Jesus, but we put it there none-the-less. “Come to Jesus and get healthy and wealthy!” How in hell’s name can we get that kind of heretical theology out of a Jesus who said “foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”? (Luke 9:58) But we’ve allowed it to be another hoop that somehow, some way, you’ve got to jump through if you want to be tight with Jesus.

I’m sick and damn tired of the “stuff” we keep putting in the way of lost people bound only for hell and a saving relationship with Jesus. Somehow the church has to find courage to stand up and say “No more!”

I’m sick and damn tired of the fact that for so many white people, who stand on the roof top to proclaim that they aren’t racist at all, more than a few black people in a given place is a sure sign of “this is not a safe neighborhood.” “Lock your car doors.” And I’m equally sick and damn tired of the fact that unless we carefully count and work the percentages and get everything at least balanced, black people can’t be blessed by the circumstances. How could a white person say anything that would bless a black person?

I’m sick and damn tired that those same white people will sit with folded hands and condescending glares if the worship music is “too black,” or the preacher is “too wound up”; while those same black students will only offer encouragement to the music leaders and preachers if they are black. For God’s sake – aren’t we told that if we have been baptized into Christ, we are clothed with Christ, and therefore there is no longer distinctions characterized by ethnic identity, gender identity, or socio-economic identity. (Galatians 3:27,28) To make it even more offensive, both sides of this coin can get real smug very quickly when they perceive their own “rights” aren’t being respected. How nauseating can it get?

Think about it for a moment. Do I really have to make a call on the “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” issue in the United States military these days in order to be on Jesus’ side of things. Yet on both ends of the Christian theological spectrum – how you answer that question seems to have implications about whether or not you can get to know Jesus.

In one little city in the metro-Atlanta area right now, Christians seem to be making it abundantly clear that you can’t get to Jesus in a town that allows serving alcoholic beverages in restaurants on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Honestly now. I mean the little town is in a county that permits such sales. It isn’t like this is some huge moral issue for the residents of that little town. It simply is a group of politically motivated Christians who somehow see whether or not a pagan restaurant owner can sell a cheap margarita to a non-church-going patron on Sunday afternoon. That will surely make the pagans want to jump through a hoop or two to discover this Jesus.

I honestly think that if Jesus were here in the flesh right now, he would probably try and arrange a Sunday lunch with the head-honcho of anti-Sunday drinking group in the restaurant where most of the hoop-making religious people were eating lunch. He would order water to drink, surely impressing His host, only to suddenly turn it in to the best glass of red wine ever served in Georgia. Or maybe if He ordered Mexican, a nice cold Corona, lime included!

For God’s sake, aren’t there enough “hoops” already without our having to make more of them?

I don’t dislike Tim Tebow, and in fact appreciate the fact that he seems to genuinely take faith in Christ as an important part of his identity as a human redeemed by the blood of Christ. I’m certainly not a rabid pro-abortionist who thinks that abortion is permissible before God at any point from conception to the birth of a healthy, normal baby. But if one more person tells me to pray for Tim and his mother and this Super Bowl commercial fiasco, I think I will have a stroke. I feel sorry for Tim, that no doubt unbeknownst to him, he was being suckered in by one of the most aggressive hoop builders of the hoop building class of Christians.

Does it really require that I have the right view of abortion in order for you to welcome me around the Table of our Lord for fellowship? Most people will quickly say “No,” but the truth is that most of the pagan world that is on the proverbial freight train to hell because they don’t know the Jesus who came to redeem us are convinced that it does. No wonder that the church in our age has less and less influence and is viewed more and more as an insignificant little gnat trying to sting the royal rump of the world.

At this very moment war is raging all over the world – and our own country is either responsible for or fully engaged in much of it. In many Christian circles, support of Israel is an essential hoop you have to jump through in order to know Jesus. If you don’t believe that, ask Jimmy Carter, who is among the few politicians – and Christians - with the courage to say that Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians at least contributes to the struggles in the Middle East. And it is those struggles that, one way or the other, seem to be at the heart of all the struggles around the world.

Why is it that the most strident voices in our culture about the issue of immigration, closed borders, and the like are from evangelical Christians who want those nasty Hispanics packed up on a bus, train, or plane, and sent back to wherever it is they came from. I don’t know who will dump our trash cans, mow our lawns, lay our sod, roof our houses, and do all the other “dirty jobs” that nearly everyone in our culture – white and black – see themselves as being too good to do – but by God they won’t be using up our emergency rooms for health care anymore.

Does it not strike you as a bit strange that we are worshipping a God who orchestrated what might very well be the world’s first mass immigration (we call it Exodus) yet we are so anti-immigrant that it is embarrassing for me to call myself an evangelical Christian. What if God is orchestrating another exodus, to bring people to a “land of milk and honey,” where He can be worshipped in freedom and in the Spirit? After all, we haven’t gone and told these people about Jesus, maybe God thinks He has to bring them here. How embarrassing as well that Catholics, who are often excoriated to the point of heretical by so many evangelicals, are doing much more to minister to immigrants than any evangelical group I know of.

While I’m at it, I might as well admit that I’m sick and damn tired of people who think saying yes to Jesus doesn’t have an impact upon everyone of these issues that are before us. But the impact is a result of a relationship with Jesus, not the basis for a relationship with Jesus.

I think Paul may have faced the same struggle in Corinth. Maybe you remember that there were these demands about how Paul marketed his preaching about Jesus. Some were saying “show me a miracle” while others were demanding “a message consistent with their worldview.” In other words, we’ve put up all these hoops – and “Paul, if you can create a Jesus who can jump through them successfully, we will believe.”

To such heretical, moronic, asinine thinking, Paul simply said, “We preach Christ, and Him crucified.” The issue certainly isn’t that there weren’t issues in Corinth to deal with. Read the rest of the epistle – it sounds like a modern day narrative about life in the church in the western world. But those issues aren’t the starting point. The starting point is Jesus – “we preach Christ and Him crucified.” Period. That’s it. That’s the message.

We don’t preach “stop having abortions and come to Christ.” We don’t preach “be sure to vote for the Democrat or the Republican and come to Christ.” We don’t preach “be a capitalist, make lots of money, come to Christ and give him your money.” No. We preach “Christ, and Him crucified.”

I’m sick and damn tired. But it isn’t because such narrow, shallow, sometimes heretical thinking about Jesus hurts my feelings. It isn’t because I want more people to have abortions, or more immigrants to use up our medical care, or more whatever. It is because most of the non-believing world in which you and I currently live, have turned a deaf ear to Jesus.

Not because they don’t like Jesus. They haven’t had the chance to get to know Jesus. But because you and I have put up so many hoops to jump through that they don’t have a snow ball’s chance in hell to ever get to know him!

For that, my friends, I am sick and damn tired.

1 comment:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Margaret

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