I’m tired of narrow minded, judgmental nuts claiming to speak for Christianity, and I’m tired of so called Christians who have no intention of following Jesus Christ. The guy in the White House claims to be a Christian when it’s obvious that he hasn’t got a clue what that means. In the meantime, the so called Christian Right stands solidly behind him, unconcerned about his amoral lust for power coupled with ignorant incompetency that neither bothers nor stops him.
Who can blame skeptics wondering who Christians are and what they stand for. They claim to love Jesus, but who is this Jesus? They say the word love a lot, but in the context of cruel judgment and threats of divine punishment. The Christian Right does not speak for Christianity and has little to do with the origins and trajectory of Christian faith. Sadly, the image of Christianity projected in the popular media is often from them. I have to hand it to them. They are master manipulators of publicity. The image they portray is not an attractive one. It exists within the worst of Christian belief that the rest of the Church universal has long since rejected, having confessed the errors of its ways. Most of all, what the Christian Right teaches is contrary to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, in whom Christians recognize the authentic voice of God, not as through a prophet, but directly from God.
So who was Jesus? The record demonstrates that he was a healer, reconciler, someone who broke down walls that separate us one from another. He commanded his followers to live into extraordinarily high standards of moral behavior with an emphasis on loving those we least want to love, engaging with each other in humility, and restoring the marginalized and oppressed to full participation in society. Moreover, his teaching on morality was about honesty, integrity, and justice, not sex. You can check it out for yourself. A well crafted summary can be found in Matthew 5 through 7. If you find it strange, drop me a line. We can talk.
What about this kingdom of God? What does Jesus have to say about it? Well it isn’t up there somewhere in a galaxy far away. It’s here, near at hand. It always has been. Sometimes we’re in it, sometimes we’re not, but it’s never far away even if we can’t sense it in the ordinary ways of sensing. If it is a place, it‘s a place that exists everywhere at all times. It’s now, here, but we can’t live fully into it. We can begin. Jesus invited everyone to begin living into it now, recognizing that the temporal world we inhabit is too limiting to allow us to be fully in it. For that we have to wait. This life is the anteroom for what is yet to come through a door that is already open. Or, as we like to say, “In death life is not ended but changed.”
Jesus used metaphors to explain what the kingdom of God was like. I imagine it’s because human language lacks the vocabulary to fully describe it, and our brains are not adequate to comprehend it. Like other metaphors, his invite deeper reflection about their possible meanings. Here are some of them recorded in Matthew’s recollection of Jesus’ life and teaching. The kingdom, which exists both here and not here, is where only good seed is sown, but not all of it will take root and prosper. Nobody is forced to believe. It’s always a free choice. It’s up to each person to receive it and let it grow. The kingdom of God is so small it seems insignificant compared to the world we live in, but it grows into the strongest of things, and a refuge for all. An ancient sage said she experienced the kingdom fitting in the palm of her hand, but it contained all of creation. The kingdom of God is a treasure hidden in plain sight, so valuable that it’s worth giving everything to have it. From it, a loving God goes in search of those who haven’t found it, and God will pay anything to bring them to it. Christians experience God searching them out in Jesus of Nazareth, whom the record attests is the very word of God made flesh. The kingdom of God is a net that gathers everything regardless of worthiness. In the end, what is worthy will often surprise us. “What on earth is God thinking, letting those people in here,” we are likely to mutter. God says, “It’s none of your business. Don’t worry about it.” Who’s in and who’s out? It’s up to God, not us, and if Jesus’ life means anything, it means the ones we are tempted to keep out of the kingdom are likely the first ones in.
Can any of this be subject to scientific inquiry? Probably not, but it’s not important. Christianity is not in competition with science. It embraces it. Science is helping us better understand the awesome mystery of creation. The more the better. Go science! Just thought I needed to throw that it because it comes up every time.
OK, that’s enough for now. More to come later.