Follow the Leader

cross on my apartment door

I’m going to get religious again. Sorry to all my non-religious friends. Maybe I’m crazy, but these are the things that surge through my brain and spirit quite regularly. So, please bear with me.

The thing I’m wondering lately, especially after the anniversary of 9-11 when I read so many angry folks talking about never forgiving, is who do Christians really follow? The reason I ask is because when I brought up the fact, to Christians, that Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, I was told that the Old Testament is different and that Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the law and that not one “jot or tittle” would fade from the law. They love the jot and tittle quote. But, what I want to know is do we cling to that quote, and shuffle around for more, to justify our own bitterness and disobedience to what Jesus clearly taught?

Are we like the Pharisees, splitting hairs over “law” to justify ourselves, because that is what they did and what made Jesus so angry? Should we just ignore Christ’s teachings on forgiveness, and the part where he says if we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven? Should we ignore the fact he regularly ate with the disreputable people that society couldn’t stomach? Should we ignore his parables about finding lost sheep and lost coins? Should we ignore his famous parable about the Good Samaritan, in which he tries to teach the religious scholars what a neighbor is – that it’s the people we hate, the people we call enemy? If Jesus were around today, would the parable be called The Good Muslim, The Good Homosexual, The Good Welfare Mom? Should we ignore that he washed the feet of the man who would betray him, knowing full well what he was going to do? Do we ignore that he forgave those who were killing him AS they were killing him?

Should we ignore the voice of God that told people more than once that “this is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”?

Jesus came when Israel was occupied by Rome, an oppressive regime who many Jews hated with a passion and wished to overthrow. Did Jesus hand out weapons to his followers and tell them to make sure they could protect themselves? Did he help them make plans for revolt? Weren’t they the ones Jesus talked about when he told them to love their enemies?

Did Jesus come to make sure his followers had fancy cars, big houses, lots of money and were never sick? I’ve seen all manner of twisting of the message of Christ, but this one really baffles me. Did he come so that people could protest funerals and announce to the world who God hates?

Didn’t he come – as the famous verse says – to save the world not condemn it? Didn’t he tell Peter to put away his sword?

Why do people call themselves by Christ’s name and ignore what he said and the example he set? I mean, it seems to me that if you are going to call yourself a CHRISTian you should at least TRY to live like Christ, and respect the things he said and did. But, it seems to me that many who call themselves by this name act as if what Jesus said about turning the other cheek was misguided and ignorant. They act as if Christ was naive, and didn’t know what real evil is, that he didn’t know what he was talking about when he told us to love our enemies and pray for them. They act as if they know better, as if the world is more complicated now than it was when he was living in an enemy-occupied country, hated by the leaders of the religion of the region, hounded, plotted against, and arrested, beaten and killed. If he didn’t know what real evil is, who does?

Or do we think he didn’t mean what he said? Do we think those things he said about being merciful, about not resisting evil, about making disciples, were just nice suggestions for other people, but not us?

I may sound like a broken record here. But, it is my honor to point to my Savior and say to those who say they follow him, “Behold, your king!” If you claim to follow him, stop being so obsessed with revenge, with making sure your “god-given” rights are protected (are they really god-given?), being patriotic, being political, sniping at leaders (whom we should pray for), and making snarky remarks to people on Facebook. We are better than that. We have been called to serve, not be served. Are we ready to take up our cross or are we exchanging the cross for a flag? Or are we still searching jots and tittles for ways to boost our own arguments? Satan did that at least once (tempting Christ). Perhaps we need to remember who it is we follow and start acting like it. The way is simple, yet it costs everything. Are you willing to give Him everything or not? If not, you might want to think about changing your label because you’re sending out false advertising.

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