The (r)evolution has begun…
Just 3 weeks ago, I posted a video in which I declared I was “no longer Christian”, and that for me, “the church is dead”.
I thought it would be one of the last things I would ever do. I was prepared to live the rest of my life in simple communion with God through prayer and fellowship with my fellow Children of God. Nothing more, nothing less.
And then the reactions came. The comments, the emails, the new fans on Facebook… I was shocked. There was something to this sentiment I was expressing. I could feel I had somehow dropped off of my lonely “raft” of isolation and solitude right onto the crest of a massive swell of popular uprising. So large a swell, I hadn’t even been conscious of its rising beneath me over the last decade.
Then Diana Butler Bass’ new book came out: “Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening“, in which she painstakingly documents the decline of the institutionalized church in the first decade of the 21st century, and offers evidence of a massive fomenting revolution, quietly seething beneath the surface of this “Christian Nation”.
We want more God. Less church.
A LOT less church.
Less human failings.
Less archaic and draconian doctrine.
Less “us vs. them”.
And then yesterday, my wife came in from going to the mailbox and dropped the Newsweek onto the floor in front of the bathroom (my study, as I call it). When I arose later to do some “heavy thinking”, I suddenly stopped, stunned. For there on the cover of Newsweek magazine was the image of a Modern Jesus in the heart of New York City with a headline that screamed:
In this clarion “call to revolt”, Andrew Sullivan begins with a reminder that this sentiment to redeem and reform what is perfect and beautiful about Yeshua (Jesus) is not new to American leadership. He opens with a startling example of just how pervasive this discontentment and yearning was for a simpler Christ and how it informed the creator of the division between church and state himself, Thomas Jefferson:
He (Jefferson) removed what he felt were the “misconceptions” of Jesus’ followers, “expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves.” And it wasn’t hard for him. He described the difference between the real Jesus and the evangelists’ embellishments as “diamonds” in a “dunghill,” glittering as “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” Yes, he was calling vast parts of the Bible religious manure.
One of the most influential founding fathers and presidents of America was vehemently against biblical literalism, unthinking evangelicalism, and faith over reason. He loved Yeshua (Jesus) for who he was, not what he was claimed to be by others. Yeshua was never meant to be worshiped, at least not in the form we do today. To Yeshua, true worship was emulation and discipleship. And to Yeshua, discipleship had one outstanding characteristic: love.
We were meant to imitate, emulate, and exceed Yeshua, not to remain prostrate below his corpse for 2000 years. We were to be more than, not less than.
34. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
12. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
In the article, Andrew Sullivan also provides us with one of the clearest synopsis of what is good and great about Yeshua the Anointed (Jesus the Christ), and why he still deserves our love, emulation, and discipleship:
He (Jefferson) believed that stripped of the doctrines of the Incarnation, Resurrection, and the various miracles, the message of Jesus was the deepest miracle. And that it was radically simple. It was explained in stories, parables, and metaphors—not theological doctrines of immense complexity. It was proven by his willingness to submit himself to an unjustified execution. The cross itself was not the point; nor was the intense physical suffering he endured. The point was how he conducted himself through it all—calm, loving, accepting, radically surrendering even the basic control of his own body and telling us that this was what it means to truly transcend our world and be with God. Jesus, like Francis, was a homeless person, as were his closest followers. He possessed nothing—and thereby everything.
I couldn’t agree more. This is the Yeshua I walked away from Christianity for.
Away from a dead corpse hung on a cross and toward the vibrant, loving Conscience of Christ that can, could, and should pervade all humanity.
You should walk away, too. Abandon the dead and old, and start something simple and good. Serve others. Love as God loves.
Not for the sake of your own salvation, but for the sake of all of God’s children. No matter what faith (or lack thereof), gender, age, race, or sexual orientation.
Become Christ for others.
That is all.
12. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.