Colombo and Christianity

columboI wish Peter Faulk were still living and wearing his crumbled Colombo trench coat. I would love to hear him approach some church leaders at a convention and say, “Excuse me, sir. Just one more question. Did Jesus come to start a religion?”

Religions have sets of beliefs that its adherents cling to. That’s their world view, how they make sense of things, their core beliefs and values. If you believe them, you’re in and if you don’t, you’re out. The religious disparage those who don’t hold their beliefs and unfortunately religious people have ostracized, persecuted, tortured, or killed people throughout history. Some still do.

Religions have their buildings as a place for the faithful to gather. They are led by their professional leaders. They have rituals they perform that generally only have meaning to the initiated. Religions have all of these things and more that are regarded as sanctified, separate from the rest of the world and sacrosanct, above criticism.

I just don’t see Jesus in this! These are things all religions have in common and Christianity in no way hovers above the other world religions in these commonalities.

My problem with the religion of Christianity is that it is set apart from the rest of life. When I say the word Christianity, you think of church buildings, pastors, offerings, sermons, and worship services, all of which are detached from regular life. Did Jesus die for that?

Jesus was a rebel! The church seems to be producing mild-mannered clones.

  • Jesus went after the religious big shots with guns a blazing because they took advantage of people in the name of religion and they heaped guilt and expectations upon them, while continuing their piteous act.
  • He didn’t complain about the government, which was horribly cruel and corrupt. He focused his scathing comments on his own (religious) house.
  • He went about everywhere he wasn’t supposed to go and hung out with about everyone he wasn’t supposed to associate with. He had compassion upon those who were pushed to fringes of society and focused on those who others ignored. He broke barriers.
  • He never preached an expository sermon in his life. He told stories. People learned the ways of Jesus by traveling with him.
  • He loved children. He went to parties. I think he probably told jokes, danced, and drank wine.
  • He spoke of freedom and practiced forgiveness. He set people free!

That’s what I want. Sheesh! What a contrast between Jesus and the religion and the church as we have known it!

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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  1. You are so right, Glenn. Our understanding of Christianity is separate from real life. Everyone talks a good game on Sunday morning, but where is the walk? I don’t expect it to be on the front pages, but shouldn’t I hear rumors of it ‘at’ church?

    We have men’s breakfasts at the church. We have women’s get-togethers that are again, with church ladies. We step out of our comfort zone a couple of times a year and invite the community to participate in VBS or some other thing. But I have never seen any activity that says “lets go to the community.” We should be there all the time instead of holed up in our own homes or church buildings. I am just as guilty as the rest. To busy doing life to really live.

    Everyone is fond of quoting “in the world but not of the world.” I can’t see that. We are way too wrapped up in the world that be have become part of the world. We cling to life as those who have no hope.

    Oh, I am ranting again, when all I wanted to do was to agree with you and let you know you aren’t alone in your thoughts.

    There is no cure but Jesus.

  2. Hi Glenn. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. We have seen EVERY Peter Falk Columbo episode, enjoyed his character immensely and still – did you know that nobody really knows his first name? (The Trivial Pursuit guys blew that one … thieving weasels that they were). The character of Columbo was based on a movie character from 1955 – a French, in-your-face, weird-uncle-friendly type detective from ‘Les Diaboliques’. Factoid for the day. Anyhoo…

    Though you note that Jesus wasn’t ‘expository’ in his teaching, and for the most part that is true, we believe you would really enjoy a book by a man who lived in the middle east for several (50+) years – Kenneth E. Bailey. Check out ‘Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes’.

    (BTW: Your post reminds me of a book by Canadian preacher Bruxy Cavey, author of the book, ‘The End of Religion’.)

    I think you’d really enjoy the Bailey book, as you get depth of insight into the culture in which Jesus lived in and spoke too. The WEIGHT of His words in light of the original language is staggering and definitely proves that the early N.T. writers texts were the real deal and not fabrications created to – as you intone – foster a religion. Christ came to foster BELIEF first, “The work of God is to BELIEVE in the One whom He has sent.” From the belief, our actions follow – lives changed that reflect the reality of God and the truth of Christ. Churches are still good meeting places, surely, but they are not the be all/end all. MANY Sundays, we watch John Ortberg or Charles Price sermons on the computer-to-TV hook-up and read God’s Word together – we feel blessed in this form of dedication. Our health issues are many at times, preventing us from church attendance, and so we understand that God honours our time this way. As Paul said, “To those who regard a particular day as holy, then so does the Lord.”

    Here’s a link to the amazing must read by Kenneth E. Bailey. Tell us what you think! Check out some of our like-minded thoughts on our blog as well. 🙂

    This one’s a goodie too (same author)

    God bless,
    Flagrant Regard

    • Hey, thanks for reading and for the comment. I added one of those to my wish list. Looks interesting! I have heard Ortberg speak a few times when he was at Willow Creek. Definitely, a very eloquent man. Blessings!

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