Last week I decided to re-read the New Testament of the Bible. I had actually been considering this for a while now, but a tweet I saw confirmed my decision. I can’t remember the exact quote, but the general gist of it was that Jesus never fought for social issues. I was taken aback that someone, particularly someone who called themselves Christian, would say something such as that. From what I remembered of the Bible, it was quite clear that Jesus was all about social issues.
That got me thinking about what Jesus really was and was not about. We have a book filled to the brim detailing what Jesus did and did not like. It’s also filled to the brim with his own thoughts and words. You can even get one that has all of Jesus’ words written out in red ink to make it even easier to see. (The man was very loquacious.) Maybe, I thought, I was the one who was remembering things wrong and Jesus wasn’t the man I imagined him to be. With that in mind, I decided to crack open a Bible for the first time in years and take a good look at Jesus’ words and work.
As it stands, I’m pretty early in my readings of the New Testament. As I read though, I’m swiftly coming to the conclusion that Christians don’t really want Jesus.
In order to understand how I came to this conclusion, we have to examine Jesus’s teachings, Christians and the Christian church, and the times we live in today. When comparing Christ’s words and teachings to what the church and individual Christians do today, a disconnect can be seen. For an example of this, let’s look at Matthew 6:1-4. It reads:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, so you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
There is a whole subset of people who do “good things” in order just to be seen doing “good things”. A lot of those people call themselves Christian and that would always bug me because look at what the son of God just said. That is not what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re supposed to be doing good things because they help people. You’re not supposed to be looking for cookies and flowers from the people around you. Those come from the Father after your time here is done.
Now, if someone comes across what good you’ve done and they want to acknowledge it, that’s fine. It’s out of your control. Going around and pushing what you did in other people’s faces just to get praise and acknowledgement is a no-no. Remember, those who seek the approval of others “have received their reward in full.” They will not receive blessings from the Father.
There’s also the fact that nine times out of ten, the people who go around bragging about what they’ve done haven’t actually helped much at all. It may have been a very high profile thing, like donating money to the Red Cross, but ultimately it wasn’t all that helpful.
Another disconnect between Jesus’s teachings and a good number of Christian’s actions comes very soon after this in Matthew 6:6. It reads:
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
This is something else I wish more Christians would pay attention to. The section on prayer says explicitly to do it in private. The general gist of Matthew 6:5-8 is “pray in private and keep it short and sweet.” All of that shoving it in people’s faces and droning on and on and on is a no-no.
Jesus tells you that doing good deeds, prayer, and fasting should all be done in private. Why, you may ask? Well, because you’re not doing it to gain the approval of other people. You’re doing it because it is what God commanded of you. He is the only person whose approval you are supposed to seek. You’re not supposed to constantly brag about what you’re doing. It should be between you and God.
What really annoys me however is the church’s relationship with money and how it can tend to go directly against Jesus’s teachings. Matthew 6:19-24 is the section that speaks about treasures in heaven versus treasures on earth. It reads:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
The church as it stands today has become a corporate, capitalistic entity. It seemingly exists to make a profit for the people in the upper echelons. This is especially true of the megachurches that exist. They bring in millions upon millions of dollars. Their pastors make millions of dollars off of their congregations by teaching a prosperity gospel that seemingly goes against exactly what Jesus taught.
They’re out here buying mansions and cars and planes, spoiling themselves rotten on the treasures of earth that Jesus himself said that they should not be seeking out. By filling themselves on the treasures on the world, they are denying themselves the treasures that come from the Father in heaven. This is not an interpretation of the text. Go back and read the verses that I have quoted and you will see that this is exactly what is said.
Now, what does all this have to do with Christians not wanting Jesus? Well that’s quite simple. If Jesus were to come back and take stock of what happened in his absence, I don’t believe he would be very pleased. His words and teachings are being ignored or glossed over in favor of an interpretation that allows for the coveting of worldly goods and the establishment of a hierarchy that allows for some to feel superior over others.
As I read, I am discovering that Jesus was not who these Christians think he is. They have developed a warped view of him. They’ve created a Jesus that is simply a rubber stamp for their bigotry, their xenophobia, their greed, their false sense of superiority. The Jesus that resides in the Bible however, is someone who would not lend an approval to them.
You see, Jesus was a man who was here for the sinners. For the non-respectable lot. He was here for the people who needed help, healing, and guidance. Jesus said in Matthew 9:12, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus was not here to preach to the choir, he was here to preach to those who both wanted and needed him.
In short, he was here to do the work. He wasn’t here to “look good” in front of people. In today’s terms, he didn’t just act woke so he could look woke in front of people, he wanted to actually be woke.
The problem is, a lot of so-called Christians don’t want to be seen with anyone they don’t believe is “holy enough”. They look down on people who don’t read the Bible as much as they do or attend church as much as they do. They talk a big game about wanting to show people “the light”, but they only preach to the choir. They’re only in it to look good. Jesus wouldn’t look favorably upon that.
Even in his own time, Jesus constantly came up against society’s rules, regulations, and expectations. In Matthew chapter 12, he bumps up against people for “working” (healing & picking grain to eat) on the Sabbath. He does his usual thing of healing people and gets called the demon prince Beelzebul. As time goes on, people are going out of their way to discredit him, all because they really don’t want him around.
They want to stay in their “holier than thou” bubble, but Jesus came to pop that. I always come back to Matthew 10:8, “freely you have received; freely give.” Jesus lives by this quite plainly. The establishment can’t have that though. Without their strict hierarchy, who will the people at the top be “better” than?
The folks on top of the established church hierarchy talk a real good game about wanting Jesus around or for him to come back, but they only want their version of him. They only want their version of Jesus because their version adheres to the strict standards they put in place for the church. Like I said before, their version of Jesus is just a rubber stamp to what they already believe and want. Jesus is not that.
Actual Jesus is here to upset the system. With that one rule “freely you have received; freely give”, he’s already essentially saying “forget what you heard”. With all the greed and corruption that rests in the Church, you know they’re not going to follow a man who says “freely give”. They’re not here for a man who tells them not to judge others (Matthew 7:1) and to reach out to those “undesirables” who need him (Matthew 9:12-13).
Once again, take a look at all the money the big churches are bringing in. Do you honestly think they’d follow a man who said “nah, you got to give that away if you wanna make it into heaven” (Matthew 19:21)? They love the idea of Jesus, but the reality of him is something they cannot handle. I believe that’s why they focus so much on the rules and regulations of the Old Testament and the death and destruction of Revelations.
It allows them to gloss over Jesus’s words and teachings which would show them to be hypocrites. It gives them a false sense of security. It fools them into thinking that they are the true chosen ones and when judgement comes, they’ll be the ones spared and saved. Were they to step out of that comfort zone they’ve built for themselves and read Jesus’s words and sit with them, they would realize the error in their thinking.
That, however, would require a fair bit of introspection and admitting that they were wrong. That is not an easy thing for someone without a false sense of superiority to do. It ranks as near impossible for someone with one to do. So, instead of taking the hard road and doing some real soul-searching, they choose the easy road and simply believe they’re 100% correct.
Were Jesus to actually come back, I believe that he would not be welcomed with open arms by his supposed flock. The upper echelons of the Church hierarchy would be the main ones leading the charge against him because of his tendency to go against the establishment. He would be persecuted now just as he was back when he first walked the earth.
While many Christians prattle on about how they wish for Jesus’s return or the Rapture, it’s not what they really want. What they want is confirmation that they are right. They want assurances that they were the true chosen ones, better than the rest, and everyone else is destined for hell. The reality of the situation is, based on their own playbook, they would likely be the first ones to be left behind and/or dumped in the lake of fire.
Who knows, maybe one day Christians will recognize that faith and spirituality is a journey that includes a decent amount of work and not just another way to declare your superiority. Until that day comes though, the vast majority of Christians will remain nothing but an unrepentant bunch of hypocrites.