We live in a time where when people read that Gandhi said “We should forgive our enemies,” they say “Aww, that’s beautiful!”
Then when they read that Buddha said “We should forgive our enemies,” they say “Wow, that’s so deep!”
But then when they read that Jesus said “We should forgive our enemies,” they say “Oh no religion!” and they recoil away in horror.
It is the same message. So what is the difference?
We live in a time where people say they are spiritual but not religious because they don’t like religion. I get that. I don’t like religion either. I don’t trust it. I walked away from organized religion two years ago while I was in the deacon discernment process. But this doesn’t mean that I’ve walked away from Jesus.
I feel so sad that the message of Jesus – one of love and compassion and service to others – has gotten mangled by power-hungry people. The ironic thing is that the very things that are difficult to stomach about Christianity are the very things that Jesus came to do away with.
Jesus didn’t want us to spend our money on houses of worship. He wanted us to spend our money on houses for the poor.
Jesus didn’t want us to have anyone over us but God. He was opposed to any divisions of lay and ordained, of any hierarchy. He wanted us to all be equal, like brothers.
Would it be better to just spread the message and not attach it to the speaker? Yet I feel that it is important for people to go deeper and read the words of Jesus for themselves, and they can’t do that if they don’t know the source.
I spend so much time doing damage control among my friends on Facebook – separating the wheat from the chaff in the messages there. The damaging and dividing messages that are attributed to Jesus aren’t from him at all. They are from Paul or other early leaders in the church.
People will check internet rumors on Snopes to see if something is true or not, but they won’t do the same thing with the messages that are attributed to Jesus. They won’t check it out for themselves – and they are falling for lies and being mislead.
It is fine for people to reject Jesus – that is their right. But if they do – I want them to actually have read the words of Jesus before they do it, and not some watered-down, second-generation version of the message. Go straight to the source. Read what Jesus had to say in the Gospels. If you want a slightly easier way, where the Gospels are merged into one coherent message, story by story, check out my section here called “Condensed Gospel”. It isn’t finished yet, but there is a lot there already.
Don’t confuse Jesus with Christianity. He wouldn’t.