I gotta admit, I’m a bit perplexed at Christianity these days, especially Christianity in America. Many expressions of the church look completely contrary to what I find in the life of Jesus. Many Christians champion values that I have no idea how to reconcile with the person of Jesus. To be honest, it feels quite discouraging at times. Thankfully, I know there are plenty of others who share this feeling (because you tell me regularly).
Consider the following quote from Walter Brueggemann.
Jesus, unlike most responsible American citizens, appears to do no work, and is accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. He is presented as homeless, propertyless, celibate, peripatetic [perpetual traveller], socially marginal, disdainful of kinsfolk, without a trade, a friend of outcasts and pariahs, averse to material possessions, without fear for his own safety, careless about purity regulations, critical of traditional authority, a thorn in the side of the Establishment, and a scourge of the rich and powerful.
That’s quite a list. It seems obvious we shouldn’t consider Jesus a responsible American to model. Take any one of these and you can see how this doesn’t fit with the “ideal Christian” we portray today.
- critical of traditional authority
- hangs out with the wrong people
- seems careless of His safety and that of His followers
- comfortable with the poor and skeptical of the rich
While I don’t have any easy way to help this tension make sense if you feel it too, I do want to offer encouragement that you’re not alone. The challenge of following Jesus in today’s spiritual climate is that we must continue to find and pursue the person of Jesus even when many who claim His name look nothing like Him. This isn’t the first time it’s been like this in history, but it seems like this is more apparent at certain times.
Here are two ways to respond to this tension:
- Encourage and support those Christians and churches who are living out their faith in ways that are consistent with the Jesus you find in the Scriptures. They do exist. Keep your heart open and tender enough to find them.
- Be willing to walk away from those Christians and churches who seem to embody the kingdom of this world more than they do of the kingdom of God. Doing this will likely cost you something personally. I don’t know who first said it but many of us need to ask for forgiveness for wanting to sit at tables Jesus would have flipped.
In all of this we keep our eyes focused on finding Jesus in our midst and discovering what He’s doing all around us. Even when the search feels discouraging at times. Not only is Jesus with you in the midst of this search, so are many Christians who are just as confused as you are.The challenge of following Jesus in today’s spiritual climate is that we must continue to find and pursue the person of Jesus even when many who claim His name look nothing like Him. Click To Tweet