I’m not sure how it happened, exactly, but somehow Christians today seem to have completely misunderstood the Gospel of Jesus. When they hear that an off-color British comedian has endorsed the way of Jesus and has encouraged everyone to take Christ more seriously, their response is to say, “He’s a hater of God!” and “If he’s not coming from a Christian perspective, why do we want to listen to him?”
Instead of rejoicing that this foul-mouthed comedic actor has openly endorsed the message of Christ, they can only find fault with him because of his past actions and statements.
What about mercy? What about grace?
It makes you wonder how these same Christians would have reacted to an anti-Christian terrorist like Saul of Tarsus when he suddenly changed his tune and started preaching the Gospel. “He’s a hater of God!” “Why do we want to listen to him?”
If we believe we have nothing to learn from those who are outside of our tribe, then we have failed already. Jesus was always going outside of his tribe, outside of his community, outside of his comfort zone.
That’s the real problem, I think. We are so unlike Jesus.
A friend shared a quote from Tertullian today that reminded me that, in his day, the whole Roman world was saying of the Christians “Look how they love one another!” Yet, today, no one marvels at our great love. Not only do we not love one another very well, we don’t love anyone else very well, either.
All of this led me back to the Gospels again. I re-read the Sermon on the Mount and was re-inspired by the powerful, radical love of Jesus calling us to an uncommon love that wasn’t just for those who love us in return, but also was extended outward to those who don’t love us, or agree with us, at all.
“…the Gospels give to those who read them the energy and the sense of direction to be Beatitude people for the world, knowing that the victory was indeed won on the cross, that Jesus is indeed already installed as the world’s rightful ruler, and that His way of peace and reconciliation has been shown to be more powerful than all the powers of the world.” – N.T. Wright, “The Day The Revolution Began”, pg. 225
I long for us to become Beatitude People for the world again; to know that Jesus’ way of peace and reconciliation really is more powerful, and more compelling, than anything else in this world.
What about you? Are you ready to join the Beatitude People who dare to leave their comfort zones and put the words of Jesus into practice?
Either way, count me in.
Keith Giles is the author of several books, including the Amazon Best-Seller “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb,” available in print, Kindle and audiobook versions. He lives in Orange, California with his wife and two sons.