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Following vs. Worshiping

May 27, 2010

“From twenty-four-hour cable news stations to pulpits that duel over ‘much ado about nothing,’ everyone has climbed on  the condemnation bandwagon. We enjoy being right so much that we have forgotten just how little this has to do with being a follower of Jesus. In our time, the land is full of culture warriors and their indignant disciples. What we lack are statesmen and -women. What we hunger after is kindness, patience, and an antidote to ego, instead of sanctification.

“Worshiping Christ keeps us locked into theological battles over who is right and who is wrong. But following the example of Jesus liberates us to imitate rather than judge. What’s more, the means to measure such imitation is utterly simple. The ministry of Jesus was, and is, and will always be about compassion—pure, unbridled, reckless compassion.”Robin R. Meyers, Saving Jesus From The Church.

A few days ago, I posed a question on Facebook asking if there is a difference between worshiping Christ and following Jesus. Most felt strongly that there was not. The question came from the book quoted above, a book that I was not knowingly seeking, but instead found me.

The spiritual search and subsequent awakening that has seeped into my bones was immediately drawn to the title. For quite some time, I have been pondering the question “How would The Church/Christianity/Politics, etc. be different if the only Bible words we gave serious authority to were those of Jesus. After all, I profess to be a Christian, as do millions of others around the world. That means I am a follower of Christ, right? So if I am a follower of Christ, how come my church family spends so much time following, debating, and separating over the other writers of the Bible? For that matter, who is Christ? Is he someone different than the pre-resurrection Jesus of Nazareth?

Unfortunately, much of Christianity has lost sight of simply following Jesus. We have taken to worshiping an ideology that involves attending a specified number of gatherings each week, partaking in ceremony, and following a specific procedure in worshiping a god. We have divided ourselves so that a town of 5000 people has 20 separate gatherings on a Sunday morning because we can’t agree over whose method of “doing it” is right and whose is wrong.

My own faith heritage has refused on numerous occasions to work on projects with other faith groups in our small community. To some extent it is changing, but much of the “we’re right, they’re wrong, never the two shall mix” attitude is still pervasive.

That’s not to say that everyone within each worshiping community has lost sight of Jesus of Nazareth. Yet as a whole—–looking at the big picture—–Christianity has become a battleground of right and wrong, throwing stones, legislating morality as determined by arrogant, deep-p0cketed men, and well-guarded boundaries to keep out the riff-raff.

That was never Jesus’ intention.

“But following the example of Jesus liberates us to imitate rather than judge. What’s more, the means to measure such imitation is utterly simple. The ministry of Jesus was, and is, and will always be about compassion—pure, unbridled, reckless compassion.”

What would Christianity look like if our driving force was pure, unbridled, reckless compassion for our fellow humankind?

What would politics look like if this were stamped on our money instead of “In God We Trust”?

What would our court system look like if this were carved on the controversial tablets at the courthouse instead of the ten commandments?

What would our border crossings look like if this was on the sign welcoming immigrants?

What would our earth look like if our environmental policies all revolved around this idea?

Maybe some of the disillusionment with The Church would turn into a mass following of Jesus.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2010 10:09 AM

    What would Christianity look like if our driving force was pure, unbridled, reckless compassion for our fellow humankind?

    That’s a good question. And the heart of the matter really. And, to have that compassion for others, we have to have the same compassion for ourselves. Love your neighbor as you love yourself….

    And I think you are right – it’s more about following the example, that is how we TRULY honor the divine – by recognizing it in everyone we meet.

    Institution and organization that strives to keep us committed by convincing us all how depraved we are and how much we need the institution to help us with restitution only serves to beat us down in the hopes of perpetuating the success of the institution. It doesn’t feed the hungry or clothe the naked or lift up the downtrodden.

    Salvation is about making the broken and split off whole again. That’s what Jesus was about. Inclusively.

    • May 27, 2010 10:15 AM

      There is a lot contained in these two paragraphs of Robin Meyers’ writings. As I think about my own thoughts and feelings on these things, my understanding changes regarding Jesus’ comment about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the “kingdom of heaven”. I have a hunch the road leading to the “kingdom of heaven” is dirty, messy, diseased, poor, and vermin infested.

      I might get my hands dirty getting there. Serious self-conviction. Ugh.

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