May I Suggest A Different Jesus?

So I read in the news the other day that the Southern Baptist Convention is “refocusing”. The article (Southern Baptists Refocusing Membership) points to a decline in the membership numbers as the primary reason for the “refocusing”. The article says that one of the things currently being considered is the conventions vocal stance on what it calls divisive political issues. The suggestion seems to be that the convention not be quite so vocal. I would like to suggest a different approach to the issue. I would like to suggest to the convention, not that it be any less vocal, but that it would just as vocally promote a different Jesus.

Whereas the Jesus of the convention has traditionally been exclusionary, condemnatory, and complicit with the culture of domination, oppression, and injustice; I suggest the Jesus of the Gospels. I suggest the Jesus who Himself says, “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!” (John 3:16-17, CEV) I suggest a Jesus who is just that inclusive! EVERYONE inclusive! I suggest a Jesus whose very purpose is salvation and NOT condemnation.

I would suggest a Jesus that is vocal and involved in affirming the full humanity of all persons. A Jesus that would not have anyone’s rights denied, or abridged regardless of their race, social standing, national origin, economic status, or even whom they choose to be their mate. I would suggest a Jesus who is not only welcoming, but who is comfortable with those who have long been considered unworthy, and “other”, just as they are. I suggest a Jesus that is not afraid to break with tradition when is comes to traditional roles of women in society (including the church).

This Jesus, this inclusive, life affirming, and vocal Jesus, is the Jesus of the Gospels. This is the Jesus of John 3:16-17, and of the Great Commission. This is the Jesus that challenges us to take His yoke and,

Make A Difference . . . . For Life!!

The Silence Is Deafening

The silence is deafening. As the debate over healthcare reform in this country grows hotter, the silence from the organized church, those of us who say we follow the God of the Bible, is blowing me away! Why is it that we are leaving so much of the talking to the politicians, special interests, lobbyists, and the healthcare industry itself. What is really upsetting to me is that many of the voices that are being heard are those that pervert justice, morality, and ethics with their very words. When I hear people talking about being concerned about the “quality of care” or the “denial of services” as a reason for resistance to change I am reminded of the society Jesus found himself in when He walked this earth in the flesh. He described not the people, but the social, and religious system this way, ” Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Mark 7:6, NIV) Jesus points out here that there is a disconnect between words and action. If we understand the biblical “heart” to be the seat of motivation, then there is not only a disconnect between the words and the action, but there is a disconnect between the words and the very MOTIVES!!

My daughter told me the other day that it is not easy being a Christian as a young person, but it is worth it! I agree. It’s not easy to be a Christian young or old! Being Christian requires following in the footsteps of the Master. Speaking truth to the lies even of the powerful. It means challenging the powers and structures that be with the truth of the Gospel that speaks life for everyone to it’s fullest. Being Christian requires articulating the reality that millions of people in this country are already being “denied services” because their insurance has reached it’s limit, or the insurer has decided not to pay. Millions of people in this country receive poor “quality of service” because they have no insurance because they work at jobs that, for one reason or another, don’t offer health coverage or offer it but the premiums and co-payments are so high it is not realistically affordable. No being Christian is not easy because being Christian requires caring. It requires caring not only for me, mine, and those like me. being Christian requires caring for people who I don’t know, it requires caring for people who are considered less than or different.

I also agree that it is worth it. Because even though being Christian requires being willing to stand, speak, and act in opposition to the forces of evil, injustice, and oppression; when we do, we can:
Make A Difference . . . For Life!

Make A Difference . . . For Life

The purpose of this blog is to highlight the need for the people of God, the true “Jesus people” to be actively involved in the work of salvation and evangelism. This work goes on not only in the struggle for the souls of individuals, but also in the struggles against the forces and systems that would prevent everyone from having life in its fullest.
Our challenge as followers of Christ is to make His dream a reality. History has shown us that a theology that does not reach out and touch people in the places where they live and hurt has very little true evangelistic power. Evangelism that speaks to soul salvation, while remaining silent on issues like, housing, education, and employment opportunities, just to name a few, is evangelism that ignores our personhood, the very reality of our humanity.

We serve a resurrected Jesus. Jesus is not still dead and buried in the tomb but He is alive. As such He is not standing idly by watching the events of human history unfold. Rather, He is working in and through those of us who are willing to be co-laborers with Him, take His yoke, and bear our cross.

It is my prayer that this blog will stimulate thinking and action to the end that, as friends and coworkers with Christ, our words and actions will bring hope and healing and in the final analysis, make a difference. . . . . . . . . . . . .For Life!