Just in case you’re not paying attention, American Christianity is a Christless Christianity.
We demand the Ten Commandments to be displayed in our courthouses, but we never give a thought to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.
We justify our cruelty to immigrants by quoting random passages from Paul’s letter to the Romans, but skip over dozens of commands from Jesus about showing mercy, caring for the weak and vulnerable, and totally ignore his warning that “whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done it to me.”
We cry out for “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” to be our standard for justice, but ignore the fact that Jesus specifically corrected this teaching by saying:
“You have heard it said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but I say to you, do not resist an evil person with violence, but if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
In other words: Endure the injustice and take the opportunity to put the extravagant love of Christ’s Kingdom into practice; bring the audacious and everlasting love of God into the daylight and dazzle those whose eyes have never seen or imagined such overwhelming and sincere love. This is how we change the world. This is how we transform our enemies into friends. This is how we end the violence. This is how we push back the darkness – not with more darkness – but with true, undeniable light; the light that only comes from God.
If the best we can do is take an eye for an eye, we will never escape this world of blindness.
If the best we can do is to continue to behave exactly the way we would had Christ never come and spoken these words of life to us, we will never experience freedom.
But, this is not the best we can do. Not by a longshot.
We can stop and reconsider all of this. We can think differently. We can at least try to follow the words of Jesus, if for no other reason than it’s the one thing we have yet to actually try.
All other attempts to change the world have failed. All other avenues have long been exhausted.
What if we try to love one another as Christ has loved us?
What if we consider others better than ourselves?
What if we refuse to regard others from a worldly point of view?
What if we tried to put Christ back in our Christianity?
Honestly, at this point, what have we got to lose?
Keith Giles is the author of several books, including the forthcoming “Jesus Unbound: How the Bible Keeps Us From Hearing the Word of God”, available July 4th, 2018.
He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.
Please, join me at one of these upcoming events:
*The Nonviolent Love of Christ: How Loving Our Enemies Saves The World, with Joshua Lawson and Keith Giles on Saturday, June 16 in Portsmouth Ohio. Register here>
*Crucifying Our Politics with Keith Giles on June 24 in Cleveland, OH. Register here>
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