Most people I talk to have no major issues with Jesus. I hear things like, “He was a good man,” and “He was revolutionary,” and “He did a lot of good things.” But the attitude turns negative pretty quickly when I ask what people think of church. I hear complaints of judgmental attitudes, self-righteous superiority and meaningless tradition. It sounds like the church and Christ are not even related in their eyes.
I’m a pastor. People outside our comfy walls make me sad but I’m not sure what is at the root of that sadness. Am I sad that that say bad things or am I sad that the bad things they say are true?
I went to a church once where the pastor became some sort of surrogate for God in the eyes of many of the people. They would seek his input in every decision and were paralyzed when he wasn’t around to tell them what to do. He seemed to like the arrangement on people growing more and more dependent on him being God’s anointed. He used warfare terminology and set outsiders up as pawns of the enemy. It was us verses them. Cable TV was a channel for demons to enter our homes and the key to keeping demons out was to have him come to our homes and put oil on window sills while praying against Satan. Some people really got into it. Me? I just couldn’t find it in the teachings of Jesus.
I flip through the channels on television and see people wearing big gold rings, blowing on people who then fall over and promising blessings for whoever sends in money. They all talk about Jesus. I see news shows with clips of people yelling and holding up big signs with “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” block printed on poster-board. I think, “Wow, so that’s the slogan? That’s the best you’ve got.” I look for all of these folks’ attitudes in the teachings of Jesus and I can’t find them.
Maybe we’re missing the point. Jesus said the point was to love God about all and then love others. Shouldn’t that be what we’re known for?
I apologize if a church hurt you. I apologize for the people who, without even knowing you, have gotten into your face to tell you you’re going to hell. I apologize that you’ve not seen the life-changing, course-changing, defining love of Jesus in me. If we are the obstacles that keep you from considering Jesus, that makes me sad.
I encourage you to look past me and all the others who have blown it and go directly to the book of Luke to check out Jesus for yourself (and then flip to John). He really did change the world. It’s worth finding out how and why.