This post has been a long time coming. I recently read an article, ironically featuring Justin Bieber, that has really pushed my heart to speak out about something very near and dear to my heart, faith.
Depending on your age, when you think of the church, some of us think about antiquated preachers yelling fire and brimstone from a wooden podium. Others think of the Pope, organized religion, hate, bigotry, self-righteousness, and greed, just to name a few first impressions. In a world where to some, Everyday is Friday, and to others Jesus must be cool, what about to you? When you think about the church, what do you see? Is it a place of hope? A place of despair that haunts you? Why would anyone want to be apart of something with such a bad rep?
In a few short hours we will celebrate Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year! I promise this won’t be a drawn out post regarding the reason for the season, but to an extent, the reason for the season is the whole point. So what is it about? If you would, go back with me to fourth grade Sunday School class when the teacher asks, “Class, what’s the reason for the season?”, as everyone collectively responded, “Jesus!”
In our society today, as we enter into a massive political season, as we begin to focus on Christmas, as we look at our culture during a time of intense tension over the Muslim faith, as we deal with radical Islam, as we struggle with the question of why, we overlook one huge factor that changed the game for all time. Jesus. Hopefully I haven’t lost anyone yet, stay with me until the end and maybe you can better understand why I’m even writing about this.
Here’s something I’ve always wondered, and maybe someone can help me better understand this: Why do we expect people of faith to be perfect? Let’s take Justin Bieber for example (don’t judge, I like the kid a lot and will probably use him in other examples). He’s had a rough past, but at no point has he ever professed to be perfect. I get he’s a celebrity and signed up for it, but when you find yourself on your knees realizing you’ve messed everything up – forgiveness seem pretty powerful at that point. The moment Biebs started speaking out about faith everyone immediately tore him down and called him a hypocrite. Hypocrisy isn’t present if there is a willing and teachable heart.
Take this account of Jesus addressing a woman caught in adultery:
John 8:1-11 (NLT)
1 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
This is what being apart of the church is about. Today we are so quick to identity a person with the sin and junk in their own life, but we forget that isn’t what Jesus is about. Christ doesn’t dismiss the act, but forgives the person. This is what we miss in our current culture. You’ve heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than Words,” but to Christ, “The Heart speaks louder than Actions.” At the center of actions is the heart, change the heart and actions will follow.
Back to Christmas for a few moments, can we just talk about how Jesus was the original Kanye West Season One? The guy was born in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, if that isn’t Kanye, I don’t know what is. This brings me to my next thought about Jesus. He lived His life in such a way that wasn’t logical, it wasn’t understood, but everyone wanted to be apart of it. When Jesus stepped onto the scene he completely wrecked everything. He professed that he was the only way to the Father. He preached love and not hate. He challenged every religious figure that approached Him. But that was then, what about today?
Christ is still the most controversial figure of all time. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the war we’re currently fighting, or how about human rights such as gay marriage and abortion? Christ’s name is at the center of all of this.
Let’s talk about radical Islam for just a second while we’re on that train of thought. Question, is the god of Islam and Christianity the same thing? If you’re answer is yes, I’ll help educate you briefly on why this is incorrect. For back story read Genesis 16, I won’t go super in-depth but long story short Christianity is the only religion that professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. More specifically a trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It’s like water. Water can be liquid, solid, and a gas. It’s the exactly like that with Jesus. Jesus Christ is God. This is not a teaching of Islam, therefore it cannot be said that the god of Islam and the God of Christianity are the same. This is how Christ changed the game.
If you’re still with me, I applaud you. You’ve put up with my random thoughts and garbled mess of a post. So I’ll get right to the point.
I firmly believe that Jesus has taken a back seat in how the media portrays religion. I believe that we overlook what it means to follow Christ as a Christian and what that looks like to those who have no clue. Jesus could care less about what you look like, what the tabloids say, and how many times you decide to mess up your life. Jesus is the only person who can say, you aren’t perfect, but I am. Jesus is the only person who can take a guy like Justin Bieber and give him new life so he drop the biggest Christian album of 2015.
I stand by the fact that if we had a little more Jesus, we’d have a little less hate in the world. So many have been killed in the name of religion. Jesus Christ is the only person I’ve ever heard of that laid down His life so that others could have it. He’s the only religious figure that met people where they were at, no matter what the circumstance. If Jesus were living in 2015 he’d wear Saint Laurent, stay up until 3A talking with people, and most definitely ride Uber.
This season, in the most controversial time in our world, take time to explore Jesus. He looks a lot different than what He’s made out to be.