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This week’s note from Rev. Bill

   I mentioned in the sermon last week about a bothersome trend that many pastors have been facing. Russell Moore, the editor of “Christianity Today”, said in a recent interview that American Evangelicalism has taken a worrying turn. 

 

             Moore cites a growing number of pastors who are reporting that, when they quote the Sermon of the Mount, they are facing skepticism and outright hostility from members of their own congregation, being accused of spreading “liberal talking points”. But what’s even worse is that, when these pastors tell them they are quoting Jesus, those opposed dismiss those ideas as “weak” or “outdated”.

 

             Do we believe that Jesus is “outdated”?

 

             Anyone who has studied history knows that Jesus was not just trying to quote some “pie in the sky” ideals, separated from the real world in which we live. First-century Roman rule was harsh, vindictive, and unmerciful. Jesus saw first-hand what the Romans did to anyone who went against them. Rome was not interested in what was right; Rome was interested in what kept them in power. Mercy, humility, and compromise were for the weak. Trying to eliminate anyone who opposed them was Rome’s way.

 

             And yet, Jesus said to forgive them. EVEN WHILE HE WAS DYING ON THE CROSS AT THEIR HANDS, JESUS ASKED THE FATHER TO FORGIVE THEM!!! 

 

             Far from being an idealistic dreamer who had no contact with reality, Jesus fully faced the world of His time. He embraced it. Instead of calling for violence or trying to pass laws to force everyone to act like Him, Jesus laid down His life for those who didn’t understand Him. Jesus believed that grace, love, and compassion are what will create real change in this world. 

 

             I have dedicated my life to following Jesus. Does that make me a loser? Evidently many contemporary “Christians” think so. It is sad that the central doctrines of Jesus’ faith have become relegated to political positions, instead of spiritual mandates. If we truly claim to follow Jesus, that means opening our homes (and borders) to the refugee, giving food and water to anyone who needs it (even if they are standing in line to vote), opposing the proud, seeing everyone as an equal. 

 

             I don’t like a lot of things that Jesus said, but that does not give me an excuse to ignore it. It means that I have to wrestle with it all the more, to see if maybe Jesus understands the universe better than I do. 

 

  • Rev. Bill
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