what would jesus do?

i was having a conversation with a long lost friend last night and it got me thinking; i wonder what Jesus would think of the American church?  Here are a few things to think on and please comment as you feel lead to.

– christian= republican

– flag waving

– war monging and/or supporting

– imperialism

– mega churches

– prosperity gospel

– exclusion

-would jesus be into this pic?

more on this later.  so, pick a topic, leave a thought.

6 Responses to what would jesus do?

  1. chelsea says:

    i’ve been reading for a little while, being a…well, how do i even describe what i am, what i have been? i used to attend church regularly, a c&ma church. i also worked at a c&ma bookstore.

    let’s talk about mega churches. right now, for the first time in years, i’m going to church. i like it. i am enjoying the invisibility, the total absence of poking and prodding that was all-too-present at my old (small) church. i was literally grabbed by the arm once outside of starbucks after disappearing for several months and not keeping in touch with anyone. really? this big, tough man grabbing my arm while i was getting coffee was going to bring me back to jesus? are you kidding?

    so. mega churches. prior to taking this giant leap and making myself go inside, i thought mega churches were a joke, a big huge presentation in order to sneak the message of god in there…or maybe just a huge room of upper middle class folks with SUVs and lattes in hand, thinking that they understood the magnitude of life outside their bubble. i mean…who am i to judge? i shouldn’t, but i do, because i’m jaded and i argued with these people over which communion wafers to buy or which curriculum to use, or which jesus hat and matching bible cover to buy, and then the books by relevant publishing came out and suddenly the world was a project. don’t get me wrong, i very much identify with postmodernism and whatever the category is that people like you and i and don miller and whatnot fit into. anyway…mega churches. i thought i’d hate them, i thought they were missing the point, because how can you build relationships in such a massive place? but – the comfort level i have there is incomparable. i can come and go until i’m ready to be found, and then its just a matter of finding someone to point me in the direction of a small group or an event. community exists there. i once thought jesus would be appalled. now i think he would probably laugh, and i think he would be happy that each person there is still a person, still existing in a safe amount of space to be themselves and honor him with exactly who they are without pointed fingers.

    can’t wait to hear more.

  2. rootsandruins says:

    It is interesting that the only place jesus claims to be “god” in the NT is in the book of john, which was written (conservatively) 80 years after he died. hmmm. could it be that maybe he was just a misunderstood eccentric preacher who had some good ideas and some really bad ideas? It’s also interesting that all the earliest writings (mark and and everything by paul) have no mention of any special birth of jesus. Could it be that the virgin birth myth, quite popular in jerusalem at that time (at least 10 other people with the same story including caesar himself), was actually imposed much later once a legend developed about this jewish carpenter? hmmmm. “Which is more likely, that all the of the natural laws are suspended for a moment, or that man would tell a lie?”

  3. Dena says:

    Awesome sermon Vince!
    I was dealing with these issuses this week in my life so it really hit home!

    I would love to go to your bible study, except I live in CA. Would it be possible to broadcast it on the net?

    • Paolo says:

      Unfortunately, it would be very difficult if not impossible to re-create what we do with the Bible study over the internets. Sure we could broadcast it, but it’s more for full participation and discussion among those who can attend in person. We would encourage you to start a Bible study of your own, though. Feel free to use our Sunday sermons as a guide… maybe do a Sunday “listening party”? Just some ideas.

  4. Dena says:

    Oh I forgot Mega Churches, I have never really been to one,Wouldn’t they be of better use if they were made into a homeless shelter Then you could have church at a bar, coffeeshop or in the park or community rec center.

  5. Justin Carr says:

    You know I’ve been tossing the questions raised by this post, and the comments it’s generated, around my head all week.

    The problem we seem to be pondering revolves around definitions of God.Do we define God as only representing certain interests?

    Does God only care for the interests of America, the interests of capitalism, the interests of Mega-churches,the interests of smaller churches like your friendly neighborhood Revolution NYC?

    The answer, of course, is that God loves and cares deeply for the people that are represented by all these movements. God transcends our narrow definitions of what He is- and we should expect as much from a transcendent being. But why do people feel so passionate about their definitions of God? Why do some work so hard to convince folks they have the one and only true belief of how God should be experienced?

    A belief in God is tied inexplicably in with one’s own personal experience: someone raised Muslim often finds God in the Qur’an, someone raised Hindu finds Him expressed in Brahma, and someone raised in the Southern United States between 1978 and 1989 finds Him expressed in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s bitchin’ solo in the live version of Free Bird (have you tried playing that thing- forge’ abou’ it!) Countrawise a negative experience also affects one’s belief in God. Seeing the hate that can fly from the Christian Church, either between various denominations, or outwardly towards the GLBT community and Pro-Choicers, many people understandably think the message of the church is snake oil. Experiences are personal, and personal things are defended. People take arguments about God personally because they have built up a definition of God from their life’s experiences that is true for them.

    You see one’s experience of God seems to have a lot to do with one’s perception of God. And that’s the way it’s been for a long time. Certainly since a small group of Jews experienced something they considered as a theophany in the early years of the last millimium. But what about this man they worshiped as God? Was he God? Again, I would argue that it depends on one’s experience, or as Obi-Wan told Luke- “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” I personally have experienced things that have convinced me this son of a carpenter was God in the flesh. Many have not and they use that experience to build their decision of Jesus- that’s how humans are programed. They seek out the historical record regarding Jesus and find it empty: a man who never wrote anything elevated to God-status by a bunch of crazy backwoods cultists 2,000 years ago. People have struggled with this, at least in the west.

    In the east they do not have this problem. Buddhists know that it would be impossible for every story related about Buddha to be literally true. Did Siddhattha Gotama really sit under this specific Bodhi tree and wait to become enlightened- while watching the various temptations of life in their most horrific physical apparitions pass by? Most Buddhists would probably politely smile at such a question- and tell you something deep like “You must calm the troubled waters of your soul from the raging wind of such questions.” Because to the average Buddhist in the east the issue is not historical but theological. It doesn’t matter if a certain parable of Buddha was written down three centuries after his death (and therefore must be corrupted historically). What matters is the parable itself. Is the lesson of the parable true? Does it jive with the central tenets of the noble truths? The story is important because that is what resonates with the spirit. The “special effects” in these tales of Buddha, the miracles, are the things westerns get so hung up on whenever they encounter the miraculous in Spiritual stories. Of course to the intended audience of the tales, people who lived hundreds and thousands of years ago, the miracles serve only to convey how important the lesson of the parable is. All the miraculous healings, happenings and, harangues of Buddha’s life story serve only to reinforce the message.

    I know one day we’ll get there.

    If you find God in a megachurch, he’s there. If you find Him in a bar, he’s there. If you don’t find Him at all- he’s still there. God is big enough to love us all. He doesn’t care that we get hung up on own definitions of Him. It’s part of living in a temporal existence. We must be weary however, of assuming our experience with God is the only correct one. I believe C.S. Lewis warns of that somewhere. Because people vary, like Solent Cola, from person to person- one’s experience of God varies person to person. We should expect that views of God are as infinitely varied as the beautiful tapestry of humanity. Does this mean then that any church that claims to worship God or Christ is a good church- even if they, say, murder babies? By no means. Like the Buddhists, we must test the message that any church (or any person) claiming they are doing the Lord’s work is proclaiming. “Test everything,” Paul writes in 1 Thess. 5:21 (NIV) “Hold on to the good.” And what criteria should we use? How do we know what is “good”? Again, we must return to the message.

    Forget the miracles, forget the virgin birth, forget even the resurrection- just for a moment. What makes Jesus so revelatory? What makes this man able to inspire a group of followers to stick with him, even after death? It’s not the promise of a Messianic Age of Israel- within 40 years of Christs’ death Rome effectively squashed out hopes of a renewed Jewish state by destroying the temple. It’s not the hope of some earthly glory for carrying the banner of God’s chosen one- their Messiah was cursed (Det. 21:23). It’s not even, I think, the promise of life everlasting (heaven’s never really fleshed out in the Bible-only vague eschatological references). While I am sure some of this sentiment existed within the early church, it doesn’t seem to explain that spark that started the Christian movement. Only one thing, to me, can: It is the personal experience of the message of Jesus. It was the inspiration of hearing a poor man, from a poor town, in a world were money equaled everything say things like “blessed are the poor in the spirit.” “Peace I bring to you.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” These sayings resonate today just as much as they did in Judea Provence so long ago. This is the message we must use as a litness-test to gage if a church or a person is truly in Spirit with God. If a church (small or Mega) claims to follow Christ and then fleeces their flock- then we must assume they have lost their way. If a people claim to love God, then begin a ruthless war of conquest we must call them hypocrites. And if a person pushes their own version of God onto others, if they believe their’s is the only true way to experience God, we must remind them, gently, to listen again to the Master’s message. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” God is truly big enough for us all.

    I seem to have caught diarrhea of the keyboard, my apologies. Thank you for this forum Revolution folk, and thank you for reading all this.

    Peace be with you homies.

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