The Hijacking of Jesus Christ
Something has gone really wrong.
As a young boy I was raised in the strict religious world of Pentecostal Christianity – fundamental, evangelical and very, very punitive. When I left home after high school to join the Marines I gladly left that world behind me. So deeply resentful was I, it was almost 30 years before I could bring myself to entertain the possibility that religion of any kind, and Christianity in particular, was a force for good rather than a cleverly orchestrated guilt trip.
In recent years, I’ve come to re-examine my early rejections of Christianity. While I don’t have a unified concept of what the true story of Christ is, I am now convinced that there is an amazing transformative power available through the teachings of Christ. I’m also convinced that the totality of what he brought to mankind cannot possibly be captured in the 80 or so books that make up the modern day Bible. And I am completely certain that contemporary Christian theology is totally missing the point.
In my formal studies of philosophy, I’ve learned that the deep and complex inquiries of the ancient Greek thinkers were heavily influenced by, and focused on, discovering the essence of God and understanding what the Divine would want us to do with our lives. In virtually all of the early philosophers’ writings, many of whom pre-dated Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, there was the question “What is our purpose?”. They wondered: what is the perfect, natural expression of man, and how does one come to know the will of the prime force of the cosmos?
Whatever position one might take in sorting out the origins and intentions of early Christianity, one thing is crystal clear to me. Something has really gotten screwed up along the path from then until now. My understanding of Jesus Christ is that he was a compassionate revolutionary and a sacred man of the people who loved all. He worked tirelessly for peace and justice, healed those who needed it regardless of their race or professions, hung out with common folk, and fed the masses, all without ever collecting a salary or building a temple. He delivered his message in the streets, on mountaintops and by the rivers.
He was a radical dude who rejected the high-minded institutions of “religious” teaching, and broke the social-political rules of his time. And somehow, that spiritual lighthouse has evolved into a multi-billion dollar global industry managed and marketed by men in fancy clothes who go to work in magnificent palaces (cleverly labeled as churches), and collect billions of dollars to do “god’s work”. Talk about taking God’s name in vain! Uh, excuse me, folks, but from what I can tell, God’s work happens in the heart, one-on-one. I think it’s worth pointing out that the only time the Christian Bible teaches us that Jesus really lost his temper was when he ransacked the “money changers” (priests) who had taken up business in the House of God. He had no problem with prostitutes, thieves and beggars, but that priest-thing really pissed him off!
Under the guardianship of “holy” men, Jesus has evolved into a jealous, self-serving deity that demands obedience or dishes out horrible suffering and an interest in dabbling in the politics of a single little teeny speck of a planet called Earth. He hand-picks His favorites and gives them special privileges and protection. He condemns certain types of people to eternal damnation through no fault of their own (Jews, gays, etc.), instructs his goons to gather money FROM the poor and invest it in real estate and the stock market, and gives His blessing to the slaughter of millions of people in ridiculous wars and violence. Ah yes, and The Almighty shows his displeasure with the children of his creation with such Divine interventions as AIDS, tsunamis and the tragic bombing of the World Trade Center. Sounds like the villain in an X-Men movie! I must be missing something. Maybe I’m just not one of the privileged few who have gained Divine Inspiration.
How did a doctrine of love and service to the masses become a doctrine of judgmental criticisms, self-righteous political action committees, and prejudice? Well, I may not be the most enlightened guy in the Christian world, but I can tell you this much. I sure don’t want to be standing next to any of the charlatans the next time Jesus loses his temper. It could be really ugly!
Fred Tutwiler has worked with companies, individuals and athletic teams, including the 17 time NCAA Champion UNC Women’s Soccer Team and the WUSA League Champion Carolina Courage. Fred, The Reality Coach, challenges non-productive views of reality. He is the author of Your MEGAgiNormous Rules: The invisible rules you live by, why they keep you stuck, and what you can do about it. Download Fred’s F.REE e-book “Why DO We KEEP Doing The Same Thing Over And Over Even When We DON’T LIKE the Result We Get?” at http://www.megaginormousrules.com.