Thanks to the insights and emphasis lent to the topic by authors such as Brennan Manning, Donald Miller, and the writers of the gospels, I’ve come to a much greater appreciation for what Christ intended when he taught the early disciples. When asked what is most important about living, Jesus said that we should love God with our whole beings and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
This was the opportunity for Christ to name what he wanted his church to look like. So, did he say, “spend disproportionate sums of money on ornate, aesthetically pleasing cathedrals?” Did he say, “contribute large sums of money, time, and enthusiasm to the political funds of candidates running for a role in government?” How about, “lecture, criticize, and turn your back on homosexuals, self-proclaimed atheists, and people who get abortions?”
The Church, as referred to in scripture, is the body of people who believe in Jesus and follow him in faith. Unfortunately the focus of so many Christians in society today is inappropriately placed on contributing to the campaign funds of self-proclaimed “conservative” politicians, having the most stylish clothing and accesories to wear to church, and shunning those who are in such need of love that they’ve turned to unnatural, abusive means like promiscuity and addiction. From this perspective, the church is weak.
The church has been guilty of this kind of posture for ages. The prostitution of the church in Europe during the renaissance is evidence. The witch-burning days serve as evidence. The self-righteous population that drives to services in BMW’s and high-end SUV’s to fill churches, chapels, and cathedrals across America today serve as evidence.
If we truly loved others as ourselves, as Jesus instructed us to, we might sacrifice a little more so that we could contribute to meeting the basic needs of those starving and suffering in places like Africa and Central America. If we truly loved others as ourselves we would spend more Saturday mornings serving at the local homeless shelter and less recovering from hangovers from drinking too much the night before.
Nobody is perfect and some of the examples stated above of inappropriate emphasis were taken directly from my own personal list of weaknesses. But, can you imagine how much better off this world would be if the Christian population in America reorganized their personal priorities to match the priorities that Christ instructed us to have?
The cause of Christ has never been cheap, unjust, or fake. The people that make up the church of Christ, however, are all of those things. All of us are less that what we should be. God has bigger plans for us. Drop your religion and follow Jesus. Serve him by loving those around you.
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g]There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31