How we have white-washed Jesus & destroyed the Gospel

August 30, 2017

I woke up this morning still exhausted. It feels like no matter how much sleep I get, I’m never fully rested. How could we be, with our world where it is now?
The world is so broken and the weight of our shared, strained humanity feels crushing. People are literally dying over fear, over romanticized history, over a majority who refuses to relinquish power. We send money and food and resources to Africa, but perpetuate the myth that those who need help here at home just don’t work hard enough.
We love who we choose instead of who Jesus chose. 
We forget that we are not any better than anyone else. We are not worthy of Jesus either—none of us are.
I spill my coffee all over the kitchen floor and all I can think about is Jesus’ heart and blood and love poured out for us. I could weep now, just thinking about it.
What love that must be—for Emmanuel, God With Us, to come down through the holiness of a woman in the lowliest of places. Even from the very beginning, with a birth in a cave-barn, Jesus began building this upside-down Kingdom he could never stop talking about. A Kingdom where the last will be the first and the peacemakers are called children of God. 
I sip my coffee and trace the words of my tattered Bible with my fingers: The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” What great faith – to be able to recognize Jesus in the mundane moments of life.
Would I have called him Lord?
I pray that God would give me eyes to see Him, and my heart breaks over all of the times we have missed Him at work among us because we expect a King dressed in purple on a throne instead of a rather ordinary carpenter with calloused hands. Sometimes I wonder where we went wrong, but then I remember that we have replaced the gentle, dark-skinned Jesus of Nazareth with a white, blue-eyed Jesus of America.
We have white-washed Jesus and destroyed the Gospel. 
I think maybe the only way to revive the Gospel now is to rediscover the Jesus we read about in the Bible. The Jesus who eats with tax collectors and sinners, who forgives adulterers and speaks to women he shouldn’t, and who stands in the gap between humanity and the Divine.
If I am going to give my life to anything, it will be that. I do not want to follow the rich, white Establishment; I want to serve, knees in the dirt, alongside my Palestinian Savior.
We can no longer afford to continue to seek Jesus in the places we wish he was instead in of the places he promised to be. Instead of in a safe suburban neighborhood behind a white picket fence and locked doors, we find him eating government processed cheese in the homeless shelter downtown. Instead of serving the saved and privileged in a megachurch, we find him outside of the Church with the rest of the cast-outs; the ones who do not look right, act right, vote right, love right. Instead of with power in office, we find him at the rallies in the streets.
The very places the first-century Establishment criticized Jesus for being are the same places we go to find him today, and our own Establishment mirrors the old, favoring legalism and power over Jesus and love. The things being said about those of us standing in the gap between the powerful and the oppressed are the same charges brought against Jesus, and I cannot help but wonder what Bible the Establishment is reading.
Back in the thin pages, I find a mandate: When the two disciples heard him [John] say this, they followed Jesus. One sentence and they are ready. One proclamation of the Lamb of God and they are sold on following this weird Rabbi wherever he may lead them. Oh, to have faith so great – and I hear the Voice stirring within my heart: “Come. Follow Me.”
And so we pick up our signs of Love and walk into the crowds of the protest to protect our family who needs DACA to stay in effect. We grab our tools and head down to Texas to help entire cities rebuild in the midst of intense grief. We finish decorating our classrooms and get ready for a brand new group of students who need, not only education, but grace and compassion. We write tweets and pen books because we know that words and ideas have the power to change the world.
They scoff at us and ask who gives us the authority to speak and we just smile: “Jesus,” we reply and they are not convinced, but we do not need them to be.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  —Matthew 22:36-40

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