Why I believe the church is peddling a mythical Jesus

At church this morning, they shared a video where a guy hit the streets to ask people, “Who is Jesus?” The responses were a little sad to me; especially this one woman who said,

Jesus is a myth created by people to try and control society.

That got me thinking. Unfortunately, many people believe Jesus was either a fictional character, or a crazy man who deceived a lot of people. You know what? I believe that we, the Church, the followers of Christ are to blame for that perception. We have created a mythical Jesus and we are peddling him to the world.

We spend our time and our money trying to mold the “worldly” into our version of a model Christian. We place obedience to specific, carved out Bible verses above all other things. We fixate on political issues, picking and choosing who and what we feel represents our brand of religion, all the while ignoring the real issues that break God’s heart.

It stinks people! Frankly, I really don’t think that if Jesus were here to vote in our political election he would care if someone was a Republican or a Democrat, Christian or not. He wouldn’t concern himself with debates over the rights of Gays to marry. He would not spend his time worrying about whether the House or the Senate was controlled by certain parties. He just wouldn’t care.

Because God is bigger than all of that and small enough to be concerned about the lonely, hurting, crying, stressed-out people who need the anchor and hope he can provide.

What matters to God is not the spread of Christianity to control society through political means. He said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.” Meaning – do your part and vote responsibly, and then do your part and love as Jesus loved. Because, our love is what sets us apart, not our political agendas and religious exercises.

So, I can see how people think that Jesus is a mythical character, a piece of fiction people thought up to help them try to mold society to their specific beliefs, because so many of us go parading around, preaching the gospel according to  religion, not the gospel according to Christ. It’s a lot like things were when Jesus was on the earth, in the flesh.

Over 2000 years ago, the Jewish people were in a political firestorm. They were under the rule of Rome and they didn’t like it. They believed that God would send a Messiah who would save them from their political oppressors. He would come and deliver them. He would rescue them and restore them to their own, free nation.

What they got was a guy who didn’t care as much about what Rome was doing to oppress the Jewish people. He cared about bigger, more important things. He cared about the religious right who were oppressing others in the name of God. He didn’t come to carve out a nation or a select group of people and separate them from all outside influences. He came to reconcile ALL people back to God, back to himself.

He did not demand that anyone follow his prescribed rules or respect his authority. He won them over because he loved them. He earned their respect because he cared about their physical and spiritual need.

So what does the world see when they look at Christians? Maybe they see a bunch of high and mighty jerks who are more concerned about conformity than they are about real societal needs. They see people using their religion to try and make society conform to their standards.

What they need to see, is love; pure, unadulterated love. It would be pretty hard to look someone in the face and say, “Jesus is a myth,” when the Jesus they see in you is full of love and acceptance. I think the world would look at Christians in a different light if we spent our time, energy and money on issues that promote justice and equality. If we could, for one minute consider what it’s like to be someone who is marginalized. If we could love others without limits, without requiring conformity, without fear of condoning “sin.”

If we would stop worrying about the speck in someone else’s eye and start extracting the log out of our own eye, maybe we would have the ability to see that the world is crying out for someone to send them a lifeline. That lifeline is Jesus. Jesus, who sat by the Samaritan woman, a sinner by all standards but valuable in his eyes. Jesus, who told Peter, “Get behind me Satan,” but said, “On this Rock I will build my Church.”

There’s a world longing for hope and love, and all we seem to give them is an endless bucket full of rules and shame and standards that no human could live up to. No wonder they think Jesus is a myth. If Jesus only wants the cleaned up version of me, what value do I have?

Can you go out and live a life of Christ-like love in the face of a world that thinks you believe a myth? What would happen if we put political agendas aside, put religious standards to the back burner and just showed others that we aren’t there to shame them into heaven? Can we let God be God and trust that the whole of Christian belief in marriage will not be toppled if a Christian pastor performs a gay marriage? Worse yet, if it happens in YOUR church?

That is how I want to live my life. Will you join me?

 

 

16 Comments on “Why I believe the church is peddling a mythical Jesus

  1. I don’t know if I can just abide by sticking with the things that keep people comfortable. Jesus loves everyone. But He came to fulfill the law not gloss over it with love. It’s like a righteous love, right? How can we pick and choose? Is the bible real or not, if so them no a pastor can’t do a gay marriage. but he can Poway and show truth to that gay couple. He can pray with the girl who just had an abortion and show her love and forgiveness. .. He can help the alcoholic see there is a better way than the idol he currently worships. But to just say love love … I just think the reason why people don’t love Jesus and don’t understand what he was doing and is doing today is because we Christians try to hard to conform and fit in rather than being a light showing a better way of life led by His Holy presence in our lives. They see no change therefore He doesn’t exist. ..

    • I can see your point of view. I do believe though that as Paul said, if we don’t have love all our words are clanging gongs. No one will hear what we have to say if they don’t believe we love them first. I don’t believe God calls us to do anything but love. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to do the work of changing lives from the inside out.

      • To drift from the repentance and obedience component just love only? I don’t know. Probably because I have sinned so much that I know the consequences and pain much more so. Being told not only of His love and sacrifice but also like the adulterous woman, “Now go and sin no more”. Was more valuable to me. This was a very thought provoking piece. Thank you.

        • I appreciate that perspective. People respond differently. I think the love calls us toward obedience. Forgiveness precedes repentance.

          • This is a super good post.. and a thoughtful thread. I really enjoyed and appreciated reading this, and while I don’t agree with every little thing you wrote, I can say that overall it was very refreshing and definitely in the right direction of a shift that I think we all hope to see in the church. I think about this subject a LOT, and I’ve had a lot of conversations about it.. but I think one thing people miss is that the Gospel of Jesus is what HE said it was, not what we said it was.. he said it was the Kingdom of God, it’s basically all he ever talked about.. how come we don’t talk about it more? Instead we talka bout Jesus, the person who talked about it haha.. but I think Jesus wanted us to carry out what he did.. to heal the sick, physically AND spiritually.. just as you said. The person who said that Jesus was myth.. can you blame her? Being a Christian means being an “imitator of Christ”.. if we took that seriously, physical and spiritual healing would be the wake of our every day lives, it would be undeniable. So my big question is.. for Christians to be taken seriously, how come the ministry of the church doesn’t look a lot more like Jesus’ ministry?

            Anyhow.. I loved your post, and I love this topic, I hope this conversation continues at large in the church until the Glory of God is truly being revealed to lots of people by the church.

          • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments Levi! Yes and Yes!!! The church needs a new reformation. We need to become the hands and feet of Jesus and without love, that is not possible.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree, Kari! Once again, great insights and writing! Keep up the good work!

  3. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. I am one of those people you are referring to. I have been so hurt by Christians and have seen so much Evil ‘in the name of Jesus’ that I stay as far away from ‘Religion’ as possible.

    Do I know great, wonderful, loving, caring Christians? Yup. I also know great, wonderful, loving caring Buddhists, Atheists and Muslims.

    I believe that God is bigger than any religion and is bigger than anyone can ever possibly understand. I believe that it is up to each individual to determine what their relationship is with God.

    I feel that each and every human being is a micro cell within the body of God. Every human being is to be treated as if they are a piece of God. Not to say they ARE God, but we don’t know.

    God is bigger than anyone can understand and God has more LOVE than any one of us could ever comprehend.

    I wont go into my beliefs about ‘The Bible’.

    I am so happy to read this blog, so happy that more and more ‘Christians’ are seeing things differently than before. The ‘before’ way is only turning people away from God, The Bible, Jesus. When I was 11 years old I made the conscious decision to go to hell because I didn’t want to live in heaven if heaven were filled with ‘Christian’ people. At 11, the only way I knew I could make it to hell was to drink alcohol. Because don’t all people who drink alcohol go to hell? That’s what I was taught by Christians. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Peace, Love and Lots of Laughter,
    Love Your Blog

    • Wow Wendy. I don’t know what to say. To choose at 11 to go to hell. That breaks my heart. Wendy you are loved and valued and important. You have a voice you are using to bring light to a tragic reality that we would like to ignore. I appreciate you.

    • Wendy – it certainly sounds like Kari listened to my message doesn’t it? Awesome. Some of it sounds like she is actually quoting me.

      Thanks for sharing. I will keep following her.

  4. I appreciate your thoughts here. Perhaps part of the problem with defining Christianity by the way we love each other is that we are really pretty bad at really loving each other well. And the idea of a Jesus that loves unconditionally and fully and despite all our imperfections can, in itself, feel like a myth. Good things to think on.

  5. Your post reminds me that “And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.” I want to be known what I am for, not what I am against.

  6. It is hard to show love the way Jesus did because we are sinners and we can’t be like Christ. I wish it was easier and I wish we did come with all our baggage and history. People should be able to say this is wrong and it not be portrayed as hate. It is just their belief, not agreeing doesn’t mean you hate someone.

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