Take A Look At Jesus, Not Those Who Say They Follow Him
Christmas is a great time of year -- the presents, the food, the parties.
And for many, whether they would actually call themselves Christian or not, their mind turns to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who was called Christ.
On a recent Sunday in November, every pastor in the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church issued an apology from the pulpit to victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of anyone working for the church as well as for every time cries for justice were ignored.
Then there’s the evil activities of members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in the US. This hate group believes it’s somehow Godly to picket the funerals of US servicemen and women killed in action, with placards that read ‘Thank God for dead soldiers’ and ‘God hates fags’.
It’s sickening that this small group of people who clearly know nothing of the God they claim to represent, attract such global attention.
What does all this say about Christianity? What does it say about those who purport to follow the man called Jesus?
Of course this type of behaviour always spurs the ubiquitous voices of mockery who rise up to tear down. Singer/songwriter Tim Minichin has a long history of bagging Christianity and in 2016 even released piss-take tune entitled ‘Come Home Cardinal Pell’.
Minchin regularly mocks the Christian faith as part of his performances, and once described Christ as the ‘... two-millennium-dead Middle-Eastern Jewish magician-preacher we call Jesus’.
He’s not a lone voice when it comes to mocking Christianity.
Staunch atheist Tom Ballard made headlines earlier this year when his show 'Tonightly' mocked the Prime Minister’s Christian faith, using the person of Jesus as a pawn in a piece of political satire.
The list of well-known identities here and around the world who regularly mock Christianity and Christ himself is long: Seth Macfarlane, Adam Hills, Ricky Gervais, Danny Bhoy and more...
The thing about these anti-Christian comedians is that they’re not new. People have been mocking Christ and his followers since 30 AD. As he hung on the cross, the crowd of onlookers practised their own stand-up routines -- ‘He saved others, but he can’t save himself’ they laughed.
Yet in spite of such savage mockery, millions of people around the world call Christ their saviour and would give everything, including their own lives in service to this man.
Why? How can people call Jesus their King when those who purport to serve him at the highest level commit such heinous acts?
Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Dr John Lennox sheds some light on this:
Christendom is not the same as Christianity…, Christendom’s violence [or acts of child abuse], was not Christian, for the simple reason that it was diametrically opposed to what Christ himself taught. People who engage in violent and cruel activities at any time… while invoking the name of God are certainly not obeying God when they do so, whatever they may say to the contrary.
The evil actions of people, whether they wear the robes of a priest or not, are in direct opposition to Jesus and what he taught.
Indeed, it’s what Jesus taught that has stood him apart and kept him relevant for over 2,000 years, specifically his revolutionary vision of grace, reconciliation and loving those who hate you. His revelation of how God actually views people is earthshattering; not an angry old man that must be appeased, but as a Father full of compassion, sprinting to embrace a wayward child returned home.
It’s horrible that those who call him ‘Lord’ and who have stood as representatives of his name, have betrayed their faith and so reprehensibly hurt others.
Perhaps this Christmas it’s more important than ever that we focus on who Jesus was and what he said, rather than measure him by the actions of vile cowards who have forsaken the carpenter king.