The Secret Message of Jesus

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That's the book I'm reading.  It's the latest by Brian McLaren.  I like it a lot better than the 'new kind of Christian' books.  I don't like the pseudo-fiction/non-fiction all rolled up into one thing that he does with those.  It's annoying because much of his dialogue is really his particular viewpoint with quotation marks around it, and that annoys me, even though I agree with his viewpoint.

Fiction should be enjoyable and entertaining with an occasional theme or lesson put into it that arises naturally from the story, not a story concocted to put forth a particular view or lesson, you know?  Yeah, if you understand that statement, you get the gold star for today.

So anyway, Brian McLaren has both exhilarated and disturbed me, usually at the same time.  I've struggled with Christianity almost since I became a Christian.  It's not that I doubt the existence of Jesus, it's just that I doubt the message so many of today's Christians put forth.

The thought that we accept Jesus so we can go to heaven when we die just seems so empty and irrelevant in today's society.  I mean, who cares where you'll go since by the time you get there, you'll be dead and it'll be too late to change anything anyway.  Plus there's the dreary picture of a choir dressed in white singing praises to God for all eternity, and it doesn't seem like much to look forward to, you know?

So many Christians place all the emphasis on the time after death, and in doing so, stop living while they're here on earth.  It seems like so many of us 'accept Jesus as our lord and savior' and then sit back quietly, waiting to die so we can get to the good stuff.  We disregard the planet we live on in anticipation of heaven, thinking all the suffering will end once we die.

We believe that this earth belongs to Satan, and is meant to be destroyed, so we let others [and sometimes participate in] destroy it.  We watch in silence as millions are tortured and murdered in genocide in Darfur.  We watch in silence as thousands of innocent people in Iraq are killed in the name of 'democracy.'  We buy into the lie that violence will somehow result in peace.

Do you want to know why people are running from the Christian church in droves?  Because we've completely missed the point.  Jesus wasn't concerned about where we would go when we died nearly as much as he was concerned about how we are supposed to live here on earth.

And when you look at what He said about living our lives, it's not a big list of don'ts.  It's Love your enemies.  Turn the other cheek.  Take care of each other; the poor, the widows and orphans, the convicts.  Do it out of love for your creator and his magnificent creation, not out of fear of hell, or a sense of obligation to God, or your religion, tradition, family, government, or whatever.  

Jesus called us to sacrifice our wants for the needs of others.  The early church understood this.  They pooled their resources and took care of the poor among them, both inside the church and outside it.  Historically, the tithes and offerings given by church members went directly back into the community, to help the poor.  Building programs were unheard of because they met in homes. 

Probably they had barbecues and invited the whole block, spending time getting to know their neighbors and worshipping God together.  I bet they had music and dancing, and they were joyful because they were so rich in love for each other and for God.  I bet they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and the evidence of that filling was their incredible love and compassion for their fellow man, regardless of their color, religion, vocation, or sexual preference.

I think a lot of [not all] Christians have evicted Jesus from their midst and are worshipping their religion [like the Pharisees of Jesus's day… the brood of vipers, remember?]

It's not so much whether the Bible is true as it is whether we have distorted what it says to suit our own purposes.  When you read what the Bible actually says [specifically what Jesus teaches] and compare it to what the Christian church in America looks like today, I think you'll find that the two have almost no resemblance to each other at all.

So yeah, I believe the Bible is true.  If there are factual inaccuracies it doesn't change the overall truth that is between those covers.  If Christians have failed, if I have failed to show in my life what the Bible really teaches, that is my failing, not the Bible's.

I'm a pitiful follower of Jesus.  I'm selfish and rude, and I want to win the Powerball so I don't have to worry about finances any more [that makes me greedy, I guess].  I want my own way all the time, and I get mad at anyone who stands in my way [including, but not limited to, God and everyone around me].  

But I know there's something more than what I can see, and I'm still searching for it.  I know that I can love even George W. Bush with God's help [lots of it!]  Because God made W in his own image, just like he made me in his image.  And Osama Bin Laden, and the Unibomber, and Mother Theresa, and Paris Hilton.

What we choose to do with that is ultimately up to us.  God won't force you to acknowledge who he is, but if you look long and hard enough [and with an open mind.. with no preconceived notions] I guarantee we will find him.  And maybe, we can even find him in ourselves, and in each other.  And maybe that's the point.

Yeah, so anyway, there are some random thoughts after reading half of this new book.  If you are interested, you can order it here or here.  Even if you have no interest in becoming a Christian, but you are interested in what one might look like [so you can recognize him or her when you see 'em] I encourage you to read it.  

Even if Christians are mostly worthless, Jesus and his message aren't.  If his true message ever gets out, it could change the world [for the better]. 

Okay, I still don't know how often I'll be back to blog, but this was enjoyable, so maybe I won't be so scarce in the future. 

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