I hear a lot of talk about how we should be anti-culture, how we should be against the world, how our good Christian churches are the small door holding all those depraved sinners back from hell, how we need to listen to all our deeply revered leaders and tell everyone else that even though we love them, we hate everything about them, how we should be better than all of “them”, whoever the ever-elusive “them” is (usually I gather that it means “the gays” and people who drink and/or cuss and anyone who attends a women’s march).
I also hear a lot about persecution, about how the culture is out to get us because they’re evil and always have been, and how Jesus was persecuted by His culture, so we should expect the same
there’s just one problem with all of this talk about being against “the culture” (which, again, isn’t actually ever defined… it feels like we are usually just supposed to think of the most depraved thing that comes to mind and paint the world with that brush): Jesus did the exact opposite.
like… the exact. opposite.
yeah, Jesus definitely calls out people on their self-destructive & sinful lifestyles, and he definitely aligned himself closely with other people… it’s just that the church has somehow managed to get the recipients of those two kinds of interactions completely reversed in our thoughts, teachings, and theology.
let’s sort this out very plainly.
people Jesus aligns himself with/spends time getting to know: tax collectors, a demon-possessed woman, a half naked woman dragged by an angry crowd of strange men out of bed from a man who isn’t her husband, a woman divorced multiple times and likely taken advantage of, the politically incorrect, desperate people who didn’t know anything about God, children with never ending questions, radicals, sick people, a woman who reached out because she had nothing left to lose.
people Jesus called out for their damaging & sinful lifestyles: religious elites, prideful people, gossipers, spiritual abusers/manipulators (I believe Jesus used the terms snakes and vipers).
and the problem with the idea of being persecuted by the culture?
yup. one more time for the people in the back.
JESUS WASN’T PERSECUTED BY “THE CULTURE”.
now, obviously he was persecuted. I am in no way denying this. I’m pointing out that we have it wrong when we say who it was that persecuted him.
because it was never “the culture”. the people of the world loved Jesus because for them, he was the embodiment of good news in a world that was trying to spiritually enslave, cast out, and marginalize them. Jesus was their hope in a religious establishment that showed them no mercy.
so who was it who persecuted Jesus?
it was the religious elite.
the ones with all the answers.
the ones with a god complex.
the ones who were privileged and took advantage of it.
the well-respected false teachers.
the ones forcing tithes and offerings.
the ones quick to pick up a stone.
the ones who made alliances with evil political powers.
the ones who shamed & silenced victims.
the ones who had the religious power, endless respect, and who knew the right answer to every theological question that could be thrown at them, but whose religious prestige was threatened when Divine Love, the servant King, the kind God who loved the unloved and celebrated women and elevated the marginalized came into the picture and began turning the tables of their theology into one of love.
those are the ones who persecuted Jesus.
and if we can expect the same persecution Jesus faced, we can expect to face rejection, condescension, and accusations of a “Jezebel spirit” or “heresy” when we act out of love to those who have been trampled, abused, and unwanted.
members of the religious elite have always been jealous for power and married to their self-destructive, unloving theology– this is what drove them to being hungry for the murder of the most loving, most kind man in the history of the world. this is why they killed Jesus.
when unselfish love is met with “but you might accidentally affirm their behavior…”, you have found a persecutor.
when kindness is met with “well the Bible says…”, you have found a persecutor.
when grace is met with “but what about their sin…”, you have found a persecutor.
when good news isn’t good news for every culture, race, age, and sex, you have found a false gospel.
our job has only ever been to bring the good news, and to stop any who might defile the good news in the name of Jesus.
stand firm, you brave and kind women of Jesus.
go out as prophetesses and healers and ezers, the Divine rescuing help of the world.