I recently clicked on a “religious” Facebook video. At first I thought it was a parody, a comedy sketch, until I realized with horror and embarrassment that it was real. I have to admit I had some un-religious thoughts about it.
(This was before Charlottesville, but the so-called preacher was arrogantly whipping up a chorus of amens because “we finally have access to the White House.” This may or may not seem alarming in itself, but the clip seemed frighteningly off-base and holier-than-thou.)
I actually recoiled. I love that word “recoiled.” RE-coiled, like a rattlesnake ready to strike yet again. And I AM striking, because I don’t want my non-Christian friends to think that particular video represents true religion. That slick “evangelist” and I must know two different Jesuses.
The Jesus I know didn’t like the ultra-religious of his day. He drove moneychangers and their sheep and cattle out of the temple with a “whip of cords.” The whip was likely for the animals, but he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their money for using the church as a marketplace. Let’s just say it wasn’t your typical “religious” picture. And he had choice words for the Pharisees of his day, the sect distinguished by strict observance of the law, with airs of superior sanctity. He called them white-washed tombs and a brood of vipers. Yikes.
So did Jesus love the Pharisees? I believe he wanted them to trade their hearts of stone for hearts of flesh. He loved their wounded places that probably made them so dogmatic in the first place. So the answer is…yes. Just like he loves me when I’m too dogmatic or judgmental.
I want my aforementioned friends to see who I consider to be the real Jesus—the rule-breaking, whip-wielding, water-walking, leper-healing, racism-denouncing, sin-forgiving, foot-washing, religiosity-spurning, serpent-crushing, un-conforming, Life-giving Jesus.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27