Someone told me the other day about a new religious group they were concerned about that held the attention of a family member. Essentially it had the audacity to say that the words of Jesus are mostly irrelevant because he was only speaking to the Jews, and that modern Christians should focus on the epistles only to shape their behavior because Paul spoke to the Christian Church. I was speechless…and yeah, that almost never happens. I calmly and clearly said that I thought that was the most diabolically ingenious way of disassembling the power of Christ that I’ve ever heard. Seriously, just think about it. What better way to justify the growing trend of almost reinventing Christianity than to render the very words of the one who saved us null and void because they were directed to a population that has historically been the focus of so much hatred?
While it may be easy to disregard groups like these as delusional, I think there are plenty more watered down examples of the same kind of twisting of Christian tradition to justify a particular politic, policy or personal taste. Jesus did not speak in hyperbole. When he said love your enemies, he wasn’t just talking about a rival team, or just the Jews. He said that “I am the way, the truth and the life,” and no, disrespect to Paul…the only the way to eternal life was through Him. In my book that means following his message, which is so much more universal and inclusive than is being presented 2000 years later.
Think of this: what better way for evil to take hold of us than to twist the very thing that was meant to save us into a version that satiates the twisted, deep seated neuroses that justifies hatred and judgement of those who are physically or ideologically different that we are? We are all the Body of Christ, (Go Paul!) no part can say to the other that they are not important because they have a different part to play in the function of the whole. God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. We were all given to drink of one Spirit, so the whole body could function as a whole, even though our roles would be different. Wouldn’t the best diabolical plan of the evil one, who was destroyed by the death and resurrection of Christ, be to disassemble the Body that Christ and paralyzing it, rendering it nonfunctional by twisting the very words of scripture to do so? What makes us work as Christians is that we are all in this together. When one suffers, we all do…when one is honored, we all share the joy. Anything less is buying into an illusion whose sole purpose is to obstruct the way that is already open to us.
It is completely illusory to think that Jesus was speaking hypothetically…EVER. His words are pretty clear. He loved everyone, even those whom no one loved, he fed the multitudes and taught anyone who would listen. The world’s power was not his power but God’s. He said they would know we are disciples by how we love one another and that with love we could do all things. He is the way, the truth and the life. Isn’t it about time we take him at HIS word? I do.