Thursday, June 29, 2006


I'm really confused. When I read my Bible, I see Jesus and all that he did, and all that he taught, and all that he was about. I get a general impression of what he came to teach and to do. Then I read Paul's letters and things get a little more confusing. Suddenly added to the mix is how to do church, but the focus remains on Jesus. Then I look at how the Scriptures have come to be interpreted (or what they "mean") today, and I get confused. Some of what the Bible "means" to us is not what Jesus was about, what he did, or what he taught. I breach heresy, I know, but have you ever really thought about it . . . I mean really?

Just about all exposure I've had to church in my life has been about believing the "right" flavor of teaching, understanding how to do church the "right" way, and about turning away from personal "wrong" choices. It is my opinion that confessing Jesus as lord is often looked upon as secondary following getting your you know what together. We would never come right out and say that, but where we spend our time and energy has something to say about that.

Jesus was all about healing, helping, touching, loving, teaching others about the meaning of life. I'm not saying we're not about those things, but they sure have seemed to fall behind the way a bit. I have thought, ever since I was a little kid just out of jr. high, that what I heard in Sunday school and from the pulpit sounded more like the message of the Pharisees than that of the Messiah. It sounded just like what Jesus was so frustrated by. We think tithing herbs sounds ridiculous, but a "plan of salvation" is determinitive of one's eternal destiny. Maybe it is, but it sure seems more like tithing herbs than proclaiming the Jubilee.

"You are free people!" That's what I want to scream from the pulpit. Stop serving all these other things. Stop worrying about how things happen for the two hours we're actually together, and go out and DO something. Apathy truly is the pandemic of American churches. We must find the cure.

So here is where my confusion settles in. Jesus was all about doing, healing, loving. There can be little doubt. Really, when you look at the Gospels, it was the religious folks who he had the harshest words for. That's why what I read in the paper yesterday was so intriguing to me. Everyone knows about the ungodly fortune that Bill Gates has amassed through the Microsoft Mecca. The
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been throwing serious money at some of the world's most heinous problems for some years now. He recently announced that he would be reliquishing some of his role at Microsoft so he could spend more time in his philanthropic work.
Yesterday I read an
editorial (I read it in the old fashioned newspaper, but here's cnn's link about Mr. Buffet's generous gift) about how the second richest man in the country (Warren Buffet) is giving the bulk of his 44 billion dollar assets to the Gates foundation in huge lump sums that must be spent every year. That's crazy!

It falls in a long line of tradition in American philanthropic businessmen dating back to the Carnagie's and Rockefellers. However, to give some perspective on the breadth of this, the Rockefeller's and Carnagie contributions - COMBINED - in contemporary dollars rack up to a whopping: 20 billion dollars - Buffet's contribution far-surpasses all three of these men - combined!

I guess the cynic looks and says, "When you have that much money, you've nothing left to do but give it away, you could never spend it all." But what are we to make of their goodwill offering to mankind? Is that not Jesus kind of stuff? I really don't know the faith of these folks, but surely there is something to be said for that kind of gift, that kind of heart. I want to stay clear of works righteousness . . . but I also want to keep James' balance of works alongside Paul's ephasis on free grace.

Sometimes it seems like such a technicality to "Confess Jesus as your personal lord and savior" if everything you are already doing emulates what Christ is all about. From getting to know Jesus through the Gospel stories, he seems like the kind of guy who would rather someone give away all their money for the good of man than to go through a ritual and come to church every week . . . I mean I think he would want both . . . but, if the guy who sold it all never was enlightened with the religious cult (read: not bad David Koresh cult, but good religious rite cult)? See what I mean? I'm confused. Jesus stressed, "Go and sin no more," "Let the little children come to me," "So you should wash one another's feet," . . . I don't know I'm just confused. Anyone else confused?


Dave said...

Good thoughts, Adam, I'm with you all the way. I've met several people who, while not devoted followers of Christ, lived their lives and made decisions in ways I want to emulate. I believe they were being guided by their inner image of God, by the Spirit even, without realizing it. I would say there is a definite place for teaching about Jesus, and for calling people to follow him, but I also believe that God is at work within His world, though there is still an intense battle between good and evil.

Adam said...

Brian McLaren deals with all of this quite beautifully in "The Secret Message of Jesus." You should check it out. I really think you'd like it.