Don’t count Jesus out yet

By Claire Cummings

Jesus Christ is someone I want to know. He was a man who shook things up. In his day, his radical ideas caused chaos and outrage. He rocked the establishment. In a deeply patriarchal society, he treated women as individuals with minds and hearts, not as pieces of property. He dared to touch the untouchables; people so rejected by society that they had to yell "unclean!" when they walked down the street so everyone could get out of their way. His revolutionary ideas ultimately brought about his own death. Christ’s teachings are profound, complex, challenging, and mysterious. They are contrary to everything we understand and accept. He rarely said anything directly, but explained truth in metaphors even his most devoted followers couldn’t decipher.

Jesus’ words weren’t always kind. His harshest words were for the religious hypocrites of his time. He criticized their legalism and their self-righteous snobbery. Christ wondered why they were caught up in irrelevant rules and details instead of looking at their hearts. He exposed their desperate need to control everything around them. He called them whitewashed tombs; clean on the outside, rotten on the inside. Sound familiar?

Look around. You’ll see a Christian culture that is comfortable in its position of power. A culture that wants to explain away the mystery of faith instead of admitting it’s a mystery. It is an insular culture that speaks of us and them. You’ll see an empty morality driven by fear and ignorance. Ultimately, it is a culture that has misrepresented the character of Christ.

Humans want to feel safe. We have always tried to explain and control the mysteries of life and faith. We don’t want to be challenged, we want to be right. A biblical proverb says, "There is nothing new under the sun," and so it is for religious hypocrisy. Christ’s call is to a deeper understanding of truth and a deeper knowledge of God. His words cut through the comfortable reality that Christians of the 20th Century have created for themselves. There is a big difference between who Christ is and what Christian culture has become. We all need to take a closer look at who this man actually is.