Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Does the Religious Conservative Willfully Misrepresent Jesus?

Most religious conservatives probably do not willfully misrepresent Jesus; rather they are on auto pilot, afraid to think beyond what they've been taught, even when the object of their worship clearly states the exact opposite in His teachings. Religious conservatives' beliefs are based in and defined by fear of what they have to lose by opening up their minds to what Jesus has to say, and they're right to be afraid. Jesus doesn't mince words when it comes to the almighty dollar.

His main message threatens all of us because He is very clear as to how He feels about money. Some of us, like me, admit we know what Jesus is talking about but rather than follow Jesus the way he instructed us too, we feel the guilt and/or rationalize that we are following Him when we shove a $1 into the poor box.

On the other hand, religious conservatives resort to the Old Testament, searching out any Biblical verse that will set them free from Jesus' instructions. Not only that, they will turn around and preach chapter and verse on what they've found and try to convince others that this is what Jesus wanted, condemning anyone who does not conform and usually those non conformers are practicing what Jesus taught in some form.

As Peter Gomes points out in his book, Jesus’ parables all point to a standard that has not yet become the norm, and appeal to a moral reality that has not yet become the cultural social or political consensus. He is very consistent about this. Jesus preaches about a new truth which he calls the “good news” or gospel. He is not encouraging us to hold on to the "truths" of old; He is describing a truth He wants us to seek out.

Yet, the word conservative means to preserve existing conditions, to limit change as much as possible...the exact opposite of what Jesus is all about. Jesus indicts contemporary culture encouraging radical change and challenges the status quo. He hangs out with the wrong people, antagonizes the establishment and resists anyone who attempts to tame his message. Jesus is anything but conservative and ironically succumbs to a fate avidly promoted by so many of those who now worship Him.


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