Christianity Without Jesus: Preaching Love, Practicing Hate!

August 2, 2019

 

In his book Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese poet and philosopher wrote, “Once every hundred years Jesus of Nazareth meets Jesus of the Christian in a garden among the hills of Lebanon. And they talk long; and each time Jesus of Nazareth goes away saying to Jesus of the Christian, "My friend, I fear we shall never, never agree."[1]

         

In the twenty-first century, Jesus Christ has been turned into a religious-political and commercial product. We use to say humans are made in God’s image, but these days, we have turned God in our own image. It is heartbreaking to read in the news about the South African pastor who invited “Jesus” from “heaven” to preach in his church. The pastor even allowed his church members to take selfies with this white skin, brown/blond hair “Jesus” who is dressed like those we see in Jesus’ movies.[2]

         

In some Western countries, especially the United States of America, Jesus' name is used with selfish political agendas, with white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, with justifications of wars, with racism and finally with a theology of fear for the otherness! Unfortunately, Jesus is being high-jacked by those who preach prosperity gospel to enrich themselves but leave their followers in poverty and misery!  Recall that Christ said: “Not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 6:21). 

         

How much of today’s “Christianity” indeed accords with Jesus’ message? Our integrity? Our religiosity? Or, our hypocrisy? When I read the gospels, I noticed that 28 times in 4 gospels, Jesus said: “follow me.” Jesus did not even once mention “worship me.” Some religious people think “worship” means to perform the right ceremonies, sing the right songs, say the proper prayers, believe in the right doctrines, pay the tithes and offerings…" However, when Jesus came, He constantly repeated “follow me” … “follow me”… “follow me” and not “worship me.” 

Following Jesus means being on a journey with Him and to walk in His footsteps. What are these footsteps? Are these the creeds, dogmas, theology, doctrines, charisma, religious legalism, or judgmentalism? I think the steps of Jesus are always taken in love, a love that includes all, unconditional and pure: a neighborly love in the path of life. 

 

We [3] have now two-thousand years of organized Christianity, churches, denominations and ministries, and I often ask myself, did these "systems" really represent Jesus Christ? We have excluded people in the name of God, we use(d) Bible to accuse and judge others. In the name of evangelism and missions we disrespected other cultures, we have conquered and ruled. We have taught holiness, but have sexually, physically, and emotionally abused thousands upon thousands of innocent children and covered it up for decades, years, and centuries. While ago, I met a Christian who was so angry to LGBTQ people; because of the youtube video made by one of the LGBTQ persons who was ridiculing Christians and even Jesus. Then I thought to myself: this is a reaction to the way religious folks have treated LGBTQ people. Throughout history, we have said things, preached sermons of hate against them, demonized them, called them all kinds of names.

On the other hand, we are daily in the news because our priests, pastors, and reverends messing around with children. Let us look back and evaluate our actions toward LGBTQ people. Honestly, we haven't treated them with sincerity and Christlike love. We preach love but practice hate! We radically love the unborn Children but hate the children of migrants to step within our borders, we want equal religious rights, but lack to respect other religions! We rejoice when our governments forbid Muslim women to publicly wear their Hijabs. Yet we forget that one day the same government may ban us from wearing our crosses and carrying our Bibles in public. We forget what Jesus taught us: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! (Luke 6:31)

 

I know what I am writing here will make some of my friends upset, but I use my voice to speak out. I think the time has come for us to make a serious decision by genuinely, and willingly to "Follow Jesus" and stop worshipping our traditions, dogmas, and doctrines. I think only then we may have a chance to convince others to "follow Jesus." It is a hard way, but the best way. Christianity, without Jesus, is a dead religion, which will eventually stink and lead many to desert it. Christianity, without Jesus, is one of Christianity's deadly sins.

 

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[1]Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1954) p27.

[2]http://zimbabwehuchi.com/pics-african-pastor-invited-jesus-christ-from-heaven-to-preach-in-his-church-they-even-gave-jesus-microphone/

[3] By using "We" i am not trying to be disrespectful to all those who do practice love and Charity in Jesus' name! I am aware that I do generalize here! 

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© 2010-2019 by Samuel C. Lee

 

Samuel Lee (Ph.D.) is university lecturer, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - Faculty of Religion and Theology (FRT-VU), and director for Center for Theology of Migration, the educational program of Samen Kerk in Nederland at the FRT-VU. 

He is the founder of Foundation Academy of Amsterdam, offering higher education in liberal arts and humanities for migrants, refugees and persecuted minorities.

 

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