Posts Tagged Jesus
One of my favorite actors is Peter O’Toole and one of my favorite roles he played is Alan Swann in My Favorite Year. The character is a drunken actor that had never truly been held accountable for his hedonistic actions and had begun to find less and less enjoyment in them. He has a quote in the film that I will never forget. “A rose by any other name will wither and die”. His take on William Shakespeare explained his utter disdain for the fact that he had allowed the studios to make him change his name to brand his image as an action star. I think the essence of this is seen in society today. Many people want to re-brand Christianity to make it more palatable.
It is clear that our world is in decline. For every advancement we make on a technological or scholarly level we move backward on a human level and reduce the value of our own souls. We are aware of the problem and we seek earnestly for an answer. From major religions and secular philosophers to modern day mystics sitting outside the local Starbucks solving the worlds issues one cigarette at a time, we all look for it. Is what we are doing though just rebranding the same concepts under different names or blending the past to build a new future?
Christianity is seen as almost a bad word in our world. The actions of some people who have used that name have caused others to want to stop using the name. I have to say though; a rose by any other name will wither and die. Christianity has only one meaning. It means the act of following Christ and his teachings. This is an all or nothing gig. A person can find some or even most of the teachings of Christ valuable but that would not make them Christian. It is the same concept in other religions. Personally I find some of the teachings of the Buddha extremely wise and worth following. I feel the Hindu belief in the sacredness of life to be very valuable. These thoughts in no way make me a Buddhist or a Hindu. It would be insulting to either group to say that. For some reason however people feel that Christianity is different and you can use the name as long as you have heard of Jesus Christ. It really is no wonder people want to re-brand what they see. I would ask though, does that make what they see truly Christian? Not hardly.
We can’t solve the world’s problems by walking through a spiritual supermarket, picking up the items we want and then calling our shopping bag Christian. Rebranding destroys the old and muddies the new. Listening to many opinions does not bring about truth, it usually confuses it. All we end up doing is taking God out of the picture and creating our own religion. But if that is all we want to do, why do we need to invoke the name of Christ? Christianity starts with the mercy and justice of God and finishes with reconciliation. If parts are removed for the sake of modern sensibility, we effectively destroy the whole. Christianity is not based on a mental practice of agreeing with terms. It is based upon the action of doing the deeds. If a person doesn’t do that, they are not Christian.
Seeking the supremacy of proving our work is better than theirs and our blend is smoother and flows better is useless. A rose by any other name will still wither and die.
I was given a link to a Youtube trailer for an upcoming show being sponsored by Oprah Winfrey called Preachers of LA. I need to start by saying I do not know any of these Preachers personally and have never been to their respective churches so the only thing I have to go on is the trailer itself. With that said, the opinions expressed in the trailer are at the very least far more prevalent in our churches than they ever should have been. Simply put, the biblical message is that Christ took on our sins due to the nature of God’s love to give man the ability to be redeemed and the opportunity to live forever in communion with God the creator of the universe. The message of this trailer and show appears to be that gift from God is a brand to be sold and make people rich. It made nauseous.
The idea of the health and wealth gospel is not really new; it has been distracting people for decades. It is preached by televangelists, supported by celebrities, and completely and totally contrary to the bible. I know this appears harsh but I have no other way to communicate it. If we centralize the focus of the biblical message to one verse ripped whole heartedly out of context about a minor character in Israel’s history (Jabez) and miss the crystal clear focus of the rest of the text we are clearly not honoring God. The overwhelming message is to love, have compassion and mercy, seek justice, and be content with God’s grace. One of the major character traits of God is justice. How can that be pursued if we are looking for our own reward at the expense of others.
I know that the practitioners of this would say that they do not do this, but in reality, how can that be supported? The bible clearly shows how God rewards people. However, he does so on his desire and not because we “name it and claim it” or “visualize it”. If we are so self focused that our prayer and faith life is structured only on what we want, how can we say we are serving God. I think Peter should feel better about denying Christ in the courtyard of the Sanhedrin than any preacher should ever feel about preaching this garbage. If a person can reconcile owning a Bentley while members of their congregation go without food to help fund it, their moral compass is so off I am surprised they can find their way to work. I am overwhelmingly concerned that this kind of garbage is seen as acceptable and actually thrives.
The church’s job is to provide a safe place to experience God and support his people’s relationship with him. If people are using it as a venue to make money, they are missing the point entirely. The prevalent idea is that God wants his children to be happy. The Bible never says this. The word happy in modern terms is a state of being. The words used that are translated into “happy” in the bible refer to recognizing the blessings God has given you, not being in a state of continuous reception of good things. God promises to care for us. In order for that to occur, we need to be serving him and following his direction in our lives. If we choose to live outside that direction, we choose to live outside that care. That does not mean that bad things will not occur. Telling a person that bad things happened to them because their faith was poor is frankly cruel and should be condemned. The bible never says that things will always be good, bad things will happen. Our ability to be content in all circumstances is what should determine happiness, not a Mercedes.
I am sure that when I stand before the Almighty God, there will be many things that his presence will expose in me that I will not want to have exposed. I do not see how people who preach this type of gospel will even be able to say they did with a straight face. God expects us to live sacrificially for the sake of others, not build designer kitchens in our mansions while children die from hunger. The simplest way to say it is that we need to focus on God and stop focusing on ourselves.