Sunday, February 18, 2018

Would Jesus like your church?


Christianity, so called, has changed drastically since the first century.

If Jesus dropped by your church this Sunday, would he be comfortable there? Would he recognize your beliefs? Would he even acknowledge your congregation as his followers?

At the front door he’d be met by a man in a flowing extravagant garment. Would he hear you calling this man “Father,”  “Pastor,”  “Reverend,” or some other special title? Would he observe you giving this man special consideration and deference? Perhaps the man has a fancy car in a special parking spot close to the door, or a special seat inside the church.

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day had all these practices, and Jesus wasn’t shy about condemning them for it. Take a moment to read Matthew chapter 23, you’ll quickly see what I mean.

Could Jesus get through the whole service without the subject of money coming up? Would a collection plate be passed? Would the preacher claim that the lord loves a cheerful giver and He needs you to pony up? What would happen when the plate got to Jesus? What would he drop in it? In spite of numerous miracles, including raising the dead Jesus died broke, owning literally nothing but the shirt on his back.

Or would Jesus pull out a whip and say, “Stop turning the house of my father a cave of robbers!” When he sent his disciples out to preach he taught them what to say, but he gave them the stern warning, “You received free, give free.” (Matthew 10:8)

And would Jesus point out to the congregation that he sent all Christians out to preach, not just their paid minister? (Matthew 28:19, 20) Would he find evidence in your church that the parishioners know how preach the good news of the Kingdom, that they know how to defend their faith from the Bible, that they love to read scriptures to others?

Is there a flag in your church? Or an image of Jesus on a cross? Would Jesus look at them and mutter, "Little children, guard yourselves from idols"?

Would this be the Sunday the padre would tell you how important it was to support your country, to pray for the president or the troops in Afghanistan? Or would the preacher catch himself just in time, remembering that Jesus specifically told his followers, “Those who take to the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) And when asked by the ruler Pontius Pilate about his politics Jesus replied, “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world my servants would fight.” (John 18: 36)

Christians in the first century certainly understood that. “Early Christians refused to share certain duties of Roman citizens. . . . They would not hold political office.” (On the Road to Civilization - AWorld History, A. K. Heckel and J. G. Sigman)

In his book The Rise of Christianity E. W. Barnes wrote: “No Christian became a soldier. No soldier, on becoming a Christian, remained in military service.”

And the Encyclopedia of Religion states: “The early church fathers… were constrained from taking human life, a principle that kept them from participating in the Roman Army.”

Perhaps Jesus would sit next to that same-sex couple holding hands in the front row, and the preacher would point out how accepting and inclusive and non-judgmental your church is. Would Jesus speak up, perhaps repeating his own words at Luke 17: 28 and  29? “The same was true in the time of Lot; they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building; but on the day that Lot left Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.”

No? Too harsh? Would you tell Jesus to shut up and sit down and learn how to be more tolerant?

After all, you have this massive church, with thousands of seats. It doesn’t pay for itself. You need people filling those seats, no matter their lifestyle. You have a rock band on stage in front of an enormous stained glass window. Surely Jesus must love this place, doesn’t he? His church has certainly come a long way from the private homes and modest halls in which early Christians met.

At the end of the service, does the pastor direct prayers to Jesus? Even though Jesus himself said to pray to his father? “Our father in the heavens, let your name be made holy,” he said in his Sermon on the Mount. But the preacher acts as if he doesn't even know what the father's name is. Yet Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well: “True worshippers worship the father.” (John 4:23)

As he is leaving your church, perhaps he spies the calendar on the bulletin board. It shows special church events celebrating:
  • New Years day
  • Valentine’s day
  • Easter
  • Halloween
  • Christmas

He shakes his head as he runs his finger down the list. “Pagan, pagan, pagan, pagan, pagan,” he says. He knows the origins of all these holidays. They were around in the first century. His true followers back then knew to steer clear of them.

They knew all these things. When did Christians forget?

Yet none of this surprises true Christians. The common expression "wolves in sheep's clothing" comes from the Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The apostle Paul, too, warned of what would happen after the death of the original apostles. "After my going away," he said, "wolves will enter in, and will abuse the flock." (Acts 20:29)

Jesus also warned about this, in his illustration called 'the wheat and the weeds,' that soon after his death Christianity would be infected in exactly this manner. 

He also described a conversation he will have with fake Christians at judgement day. "'Lord, we spoke in your name, and performed miracles in your name, and practiced many good deeds in your name!' And then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Get away from me.'"

Bill K. Underwood is a Bible student and author of three 'bible friendly' novels on Amazon. 


7 comments:

  1. Very good reading brother. Can I copy and paste on to my Facebook group called Jehovah's witnesses the facts the truth? I not be offended if you do say no but I want to get permission first. thank you.

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  2. Great article! Nicely summarizes the hypocrisy of modern so-called "Christianity".

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  3. John 4:him. 24 God is a Spirit, and those worshipping him must worship with spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him: “I know that Mes·siʹah is coming, who is called Christ. Whenever that one comes, he will declare all things to us openly.” 26 Jesus said to her: “I am he, the one speaking to you.”

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  4. "Well done faithful slave!"

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  5. Is this man a Witness? if he isn't, he should be. wow! Good writing. I could not have done it any better.

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