I 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!