The Gospel (Part 2)
For far too long, some of you, my friends, have been distancing yourselves from churches and from Christians. You simply use...
For far too long, some of you, my friends, have been distancing yourselves from churches and from Christians. You simply use the problems in the American church (and the hypocrisy of Christians) to prove to yourselves that the teachings of Jesus are hollow and meaningless. This rationalization is a disservice to yourself. I understand it well and often identify with you; it's hard to see Jesus clearly for all of his bumbling followers (myself included) obscuring the view. Becoming distracted by the failings of Jesus' followers is a tragic mistake; Jesus is not on trial. Nor is Jesus a hoaxter trying to deceive and exploit you. Never forget, no follower of Jesus is the rescuer, the Messiah, or the Savior of the world; Jesus is. Jesus is a friend giving to you rather than taking from you-- he offers you everything. He offers his life.
His life carries in it far more than you could imagine. I caution you though, what you think you want, what you think will satisfy you is very likely different from what his life is actually offering you. He’s offering you what you truly want which is far more than what you think you want. Very few, if any, are self-aware enough to know what they are looking for. However, what he offers you is himself and he is far more than you need. He is satisfaction, enlightenment, and access to the divine. He is the leader you can trust, the way to live, the truth, life itself, and the means by which we connect to purpose-filled living. These aren't my claims, these are Jesus own teachings. Take a look at Jesus' seven claims (I Am statements) for yourself sometime. (John 6:35, John 8:12, John 10:9, John 10:11, John 11:25-26, John 14:6, John 15:5)
What you may have failed to notice is the hypocrisy among Christians is actually good news for you. I know that sounds like a crazy claim, and I hate hypocrisy too, but bear with me.
The fact that Jesus' followers are from all walks of life and in fact some of the worst kinds of people (including hypocrites), but they all report experiencing refreshing, all encompassing, unconditional love from Jesus is quite remarkable. They all say that this love connects them to God. This loving connection provides a new power to become as they were intended to be. They find purpose, love, and satisfaction that begins a new way of life— yes, even a way to change. That this connection to God provides purpose in life is almost unbelievable, yet it's true.
You can find hope in this beautiful truth. Jesus life can be your life.
My friends who have experienced this love are (or have been) liars, cheats, drug addicts, porn producers, criminals, violent offenders and the list goes on. All of them have found freedom in Christ!
In addition, my friends who have found this satisfaction in Jesus have experienced some of the most heinous things the world has to offer. They've been sexually abused, abandoned, beaten, used, and thrown away by people in the world they should have been able to trust.
They've experienced loss and heartache I wouldn't even pretend to understand. Yet, they all report discovering hope to move forward in Jesus! They talk about their experience with him in terms like "finding a reset button." They all talk about real restoration found in Jesus. This hope isn't some fairy-tail naivety allowing them to become blind to their circumstance. Rather, it's an inner sense that tells them their pain wasn't without purpose. That sense holds a confidence allowing them to look to the future with expectation.
I repeat, the fact the ranks of Jesus' followers are filled with misfits, loaners, outcasts, and yes, hypocrites is good because it means there is absolutely room in the love of Jesus for you!
This is consistent with the Biblical narrative that teaches us God loves humanity so much He sent Jesus to rescue us. (John 3:16) Ultimately, Jesus would show us the full-display of God's heart in human terms. He would live a perfect life, showing himself constantly to be the "friend of sinners" and die a brutal death in our place and for our sin (un-right-ness). He would prove his divinity (supporting his claims) by victoriously conquering death and the grave. The beautiful good news is he didn't just show off his power but offered his resurrected, abundant, fulfilling life to us. Before you go off saying: see there it is, in your "Christian" narrative God himself is an abusive Father, allow me to stop you and ask that you reconsider. You see, basic orthodox theology, answers this concern. Jesus was (and is) God incarnate. God with flesh on. God in humanity. (John 1:14) Without delving too deeply into the notion of the trinity understand, in a very real way the Father was sending Himself-- God came to us. Jesus is the display of the trinity to humanity, the Bible calls him the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Colossians 2:9)
God is not distant, removed, and unconcerned with your life. He invites you into friendship. This friendship is where fulfillment is found. So many have heard this and disbelieved it due to guilt, shame, and difficulty viewing their past. Others have felt offended by the notion they would need God to be whole. He's a crutch for the weak, they say, failing to be honest enough with themselves to recognize, we are all weak in our own ways. However, God receives glory (fame/ re-known) and enjoys rescuing the most unlikely people. Those who think they are too bad to come to God increase the fame of God in that his love is able to be applied to them and can in fact motivate them to experience life change. (2 Corinthians 5:14) Those who think they have all they need in life bring fame to Jesus by humbling themselves and admitting they were missing far more than they imagined. Allow me to tell you; this is a joyful admission!
Embracing truth brings joy.
Pursue that joy in part 3.