Posted April 4, 2021
“Some say he was an outlaw that he roamed across the land, With a band of unschooled ruffians and few old fishermen . . . Some say he was the Son of God, a man above all men, That he came to be a servant and to set us free from sin, And that's who I believe he is 'cause that's what I believe And I think we should get ready 'cause it's time for us to leave . . .”
From “The Outlaw” by Larry Norman
As this is posted, it’s Easter Sunday, 2021. For the many and various denominations and independent churches around the world based on Judeo-Christianity, it’s the holiest of days, right up there with Christmas (or, at least, what Christmas represents. Many debate when the birth of “Jesus” (Yeshua, etc.) actually took place.
I was raised in such a line of churches. I went to a Christian college and university (and a secular community college, as well). In my so-called adult life, I served in a variety of positions in churches. I taught classes. I served on church boards. I was a close confident of a pastor or two.
I’ve witnessed and experienced all the best and worst that can go on in churches. I’ve enjoyed great fellowship and horrific betrayal. I’ve been blessed and I’ve been cursed – sometimes from the same mouth.
I’ve witnessed miracles and I’ve waited for the arrival of promised miracles.
And I still wait for them.
My point of all of this is that it seems these days that the one who churchdom refers to as “Jesus” isn’t very popular today. I don’t mean in a John Lennon sort of way. I mean that the Christ and those who profess him today are quite unpopular. I mean really, really, really unpopular. And unrighteously so.
What I mean by that last comment is that the Christ was unpopular to many in his time but the Scriptures had foretold as much and it was because, according to some, he was upsetting the “Jewish applecart”. I’m not educated enough nor smart enough to argue those points here nor will I. My reason for mentioning it was that the Christ was unpopular because of his righteous mission – rightly or wrongly as it may be interpreted today.
“Christians,” on the other hand, are quite unpopular today (and, by connection, the Christ), because of an uncanny ability to display hypocrisy and hatred.
My fellow believers are attacking viciously. The right-leaning believers attack the left-leaning believers and vice versa. And that’s all within the “church”.
Outside of the “church”? Boy howdy! We really are quite vicious.
In my life, I’ve felt, thought, and displayed a haughty piousness that I am now quite embarrassed by. I have experienced an humbling through the hard knocks of life that humbled – and is still humbling – me. Those lessons are still being delivered to me and still sinking in.
I do believe that Christ was sent by God. I also believe that we believers should pay a lot closer heed to what he taught.
Here’s what I see and know, so far, in my simple mind:
Christ displayed love to all people. So should I.
Christ challenged the religious establishment, not the political one. Let that sink in.
Christ called his followers to feed and clothe the hungry and naked. He didn’t call on the government to own that responsibility. Let that also sink in.
I could share a lot more lessons but, as of this writing, I’m having a heck of a time staying on top of those three and know that I’m not doing anywhere near the job that I should be.
As for Jesus being an outlaw, as the song says, I’ll close with the John Lennon “infamous” quote in its entirety.
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular that Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Let that, too, sink in.