On Reclaiming Christology…
I’ve already prefaced this post with my rant about whether or not to offend, so I feel okay just letting fly on this one. The biggest tragedy in America is that the church has surrendered the role of teaching the world about Christ to those who hate him. For example, in the 1990’s, the W.W.J.D. bracelets were everywhere because it made church kids feel “edgy” to have a witness for holiness on their arm all the time. 20 years later, the only time I hear people actually asking what Jesus would do are people who are talking about social justice initiatives. For sure, we need to be involved in social justice initiatives and Jesus is the premier reason we should be about them. However, why is it that secular humanists are the leading authorities on what Jesus would do?
I’ll admit: as a kid, I had a W.W.J.D. bracelet because I thought it was cool. I lost it when I was about 13 and have never sought to replace it. Considering that wearing it didn’t actually stop me from sinning one time (that I can think of), it seems a bit of a waste of my money. As the band Dead Poet Society once said, “This is all my Jesus junk…” That being said, the W.W.J.D. question is one that we need to re-examine. Why? Because to answer it requires that we actually know him. I can count on one hand the number of people on this earth who can accurately predict what I will do in any given scenario, and the reason they can is that they have spent copious amounts of time in my company. If we are to do the same for Christ, I dare say the same rule applies. This is why I have a certain level of incredulity when it comes to someone in the Social Justice crowd telling me what Jesus would be doing.
I was reading a post on WordPress recently titled “Why I Don’t Go to Church”, where the blogger detailed an account of her and her friend trying to volunteer for a soup kitchen. After a bit of showmanship relating to her amazing tolerance of the “Christian Outreach” at the core of the charity–so selflessly disregarding her own opinions about religion and all–there was an expression of shock and near-outrage when the director told her to spend Christmas with her family. The crowning moment was when this person asked the rhetorical question, “If Jesus came back on Christmas day, do you really think he would spend it in your house with your family or out on the street helping those less fortunate?!” If I’m being truly honest with my Biblical study, I would have to say the former. Here is why:
1) Jesus celebrated the Passover like any religious Jew. This should not be missed. Yes, Jesus helped those who needed it, but he did not mind adhering to the rules of religion and tradition either… even though he transcends them because he is God. If I’m really being honest, I think Jesus would be most likely to spend a Christmas with a family of prominent Atheists… think Christopher Hitchins, Dan Brown, Richard Dawkins–that sort of folk.
2) Jesus didn’t have a problem with having personal time. The man had a habit of wandering off by himself to pray all night. He also fled from crowds on several occasions. That whole Transfiguration episode? Had a total audience of three people. This idea that Jesus was Mother Theresa on steroids does not fit with the actual Gospel accounts of his life.
3) Jesus’ ministry was incidental to his preaching. The crazy thing that people miss is that almost all of Jesus’ miracles happened when he was on his way somewhere or about to preach. Jesus’ main goal was to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15), not to up-end the Roman oppression of Israel.
It is things like this that pervade the Social Justice movement as they seek for a reason the legitimize what they do. When you discount the person of Christ and the teachings he gave, you remove any reason for Social Justice. Let’s take another, slightly more inflammatory issue: Illegal immigration.
During a practicum class this last spring, we took a pair of articles from preachers on both sides of the issue of Illegal Immigration and compared them. The thing that stuck out to me was in an article written by a Hispanic pastor who was the son of illegal immigrants. He said that the church should be aiding Illegal Immigrants because Jesus would be standing at the border with blankets, water bottles and hot food. I have to substantially disagree.
1) John 9:39-10:5. And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
2) One again, Jesus’ ministry was incidental to his preaching. He was in a certain place, someone needed help, and he helped them. The exact same is true of Phillip preaching to the Ethiopian. The entire point of Phillip leaving the city he was in and being translated away to Samaria were (A) so that he could preach to the Ethiopian and (B) so that he could preach in Samaria. Go figure.
3) Disrespect of the law is a sign of the Apocalypse. I can hear people now rolling their eyes and thinking that I’ve gone off the deep end, but Jesus said it himself in Matthew 24:12. If nothing else shocks us in this issue, it should be that there are some who are openly advocating lawlessness.
This brings us back to the original question… Why is it that people who do not actually know Jesus are becoming the experts in what he would do? As the Social Justice Movement continues to reject the supremacy of Christ, it should become more apparent that (A) the church should not cooperate with such people and (B) that we need to bring our focus back Christ. It is great to hear messages in church about fiscal responsibility and living clean… but we cannot continue to let the world instruct the world about the nature of Christ. This is why I pray in the prayer room. This is why the church in the Western World needs revival. At the end of the day, we need Jesus.