Going into Good Friday 2011, I decided to repost the past two Good Friday entries, as that seems to be the one day in a year where I KNOW I will write something for this site. This is last year’s entry. If you’ve already seen it, maybe you need to re-read it? If you haven’t, give it a shot. It was written much in the style of Jesus’ own model of standing and speaking at the Feast of Tabernacles…
Christianity was founded roughly 2,000 years ago on the shores of a big lake in the Near East that still exists today – the Sea of Galilee. It has its roots in a small town that still exists today in present-day Israel – Bethlehem. Its foundation was made permanent a city of much strife for thousands of years both before and after – Jerusalem.
It started out as a small sect of Judaism that most in its day found humorous at best, blasphemous at worst. A small group of fishermen, tax collectors, whores, and other assorted scum of the earth claimed to have met the Messiah, and that he taught that to live, you must die. He claimed he was God, a claim that makes him (paraphrasing CS Lewis here) either a liar, a lunatic, or LORD.
The Messiah had already drawn large crowds during during his life, but that was nothing new for the era. “Messiah”s of various forms had been rising up for hundreds of years before this one, gaining large crowds during their lives, only to die (usually by execution) and have their names be forgotten in the annals of history.
No, two things made this Messiah different: 1) After his extremely brutal -so brutal that he was no longer recognizable as human- and extremely public -so public that people from thousands of miles away saw it first hand- execution, he was seen by thousands living and breathing, with barely a scar on his body. 2) Because of this resurrection, this Messiah continued to draw large crowds after his death.
But 2,000 years later, his followers have devolved to where many of them – perhaps even most of them – have lost sight of the true Jesus Christ of Nazareth and what he did.
Christianity has become a cult.
You see, Christianity today worships itself over the reason it exists – Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
We Christians willingly accept bondage Christ never meant us to have. We get wrapped up in our multi-BILLION dollar per year subculture, and we put blinders on as to what is going on with our next door neighbor, with the guy across the street, with the people down in Cat’s Alley. I’m as guilty as anyone here, don’t think I’m not preaching to myself as well.
We get wrapped up in what Casting Crowns appropriately calls the “Stained Glass Masquerade“. We go to church because we’re expected to go to church. We wear what we are expected to wear – no tshirts and shorts in OUR Sunday morning services, thank you very much! We stand up/sit down/stand up/sit down and dutifully sing and listen to the speaker, as expected. We shake hands with 2.5 of our pewmates and exchange pleasant hellos, as expected – even though we MIGHT see these people once a week, and that is in this very pew, where both we and they have sat all our lives on for 1.5 hours on Sunday morning.
We create our own rules – no mowing your grass on Sunday, no sandals in church, drinking alcohol or smoking anything at all is forbidden, no dancing, only “Christian” music at weddings. We pride ourselves in following our insane rules, and we berate those who don’t obey them – ESPECIALLY if they don’t believe them!
We have become EXACTLY what the Pharisees of Christ’s day were – the religious Judge, Jury, and Executioner. WE are the pious, and anyone who is not one of us is a heathen, to be spat upon and mocked.
Here’s the problem for us: Christ didn’t exactly hang out with the Pharisees in his day. No, he went directly to the fishermen, the tax collectors, the whores, and the other scum of the earth, and he made those people his best friends, his closest confidants, his most trusted disciples. He didn’t reach out to the religious leaders – they already had their religion. Instead, He reached out to the down and out, and he brought them up. Fishermen – a dirty, stinky profession – became Fishers of Men – men tasked with spreading Christ’s teachings throughout the world. Tax collectors became social workers, taking in the voluntary contributions of those who had extra and giving it to those who genuinely most needed the extra help. Prostitutes became models of propriety in how to live as a woman for Christ.
The Pharisees had their religion, their cult. They didn’t need Christ, he didn’t fit into their system – and by and large most of them are burning in a literal burning Hell right now because of that rejection.
Christians today face a similar choice. We can choose to be part of the Cult of Christianity and revel in our Stained Glass Masquerade. Doing so rejects Christ, and in my opinion is exactly what Christ spoke of when he spoke of separating the good wheat from the bad. If you remember, the bad wheat was burned in the fire – in the Cult of Christianity’s case, just as in the Pharisees’, it will be the literal burning fires of an everlasting Hell.
Or we can choose to embrace Christ and Christ Alone. We can embrace the Change. Traditions do not matter – Christ does. Appearances do not matter – Christ does. We follow Christ and Christ alone, and we leave tradition and worrying about appearances in the dust.
Heaven is counting on us making the right choice. There is a world out there begging for the Freedom that can only be found in Christ – not just in China, India, or some other far off place. It is in our nation, in our State, in our Counties, in our Cities, on our streets – and in our homes. In our own hearts.
Twelve men, scum of the earth when Jesus met them, once changed the world. There are millions that claim Christianity now in the US alone. Just think of what they could do if they actually embraced Christ and all that He is.
Choose. This. Day. Whom. You. Shall. Serve.
or The Cult of Christianity?