There are many professing believers who claim Jesus as Lord, but few who want to follow his counterintuitive teachings on living spiritually in the world.
The directives Jesus gives his followers are no more specific than in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
Yet, in many Christian circles, it seems concepts such as humility, peace, unconditional love, radical forgiveness, mercy, speaking up for justice and the oppressed, clothing the naked, feeding the poor and “doing unto others” have been all but lost.
Blessed are the peacemakers, the meek, the merciful, the poor in spirit, the pure of heart? These ideas don’t sit well in a culture where we’re taught from a young age to be self-sufficient, always looking out for number one.
Living the life prescribed by Jesus isn’t easy in a “me”-centered society, so those things are conveniently pushed to the side or considered irrelevant to the overall message of the gospel of eternal salvation.
Unfortunately, U.S. Christianity has become so entrenched with politics over the last three decades or so, that non-Christians know it more for its self-righteous crusades on moral issues, extreme judgmentalism, insensitivity and hypocrisy.
One of the constant mantras I hear preached from evangelical pulpits is that the world hates the church and is doing everything it can to suppress it, but what are we giving them to love?
Are we passionate about the virtues of love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and peace espoused by Jesus?
Are we reflecting Jesus in our personal, social and, yes, political lives, or are we really just reflecting our own self-interests, desires and beliefs?
Most of us are familiar with the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.
The story is often used in condemnation of sexual sins, but rarely have I heard the rest of the story preached from the pulpit. There’s a reason for this, we’re all a little like the inhabitants of Sodom.
Ezekiel 16:49-51 says, “Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony and laziness while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.”
I believe U.S. Christianity, in particular U.S. evangelicalism, needs a wakeup call.
Who of us is not guilty of the sins mentioned by Ezekiel? Yet, this particular passage has obviously – and intentionally – been ignored by dominant masses of the evangelical faith in the U.S.
Sin destroys the individual and humanity as a whole: spiritually, emotionally and physically – but all sin, not just one or two sins that don’t apply to me.
Pride, envy, greed, jealousy, wrath, lust, gluttony – every one of us, whether we occupy a church pew on Sunday or not, are guilty. Christians must come to the point where we admit that we, too, are a big part of the problem.
The answer lies in the words of Jesus. The gospel offers the beginning of a personal transformation and the promise of eternal life, while the teachings of Christ provide us a path to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the very method of bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth.
Maybe that’s why he talked about it so much.
Jerry A. Hudson is a former news writer and reporter who now serves as press liaison for a local law enforcement agency in Georgia and is currently enrolled in the certificate of ministry program at George W. Truett Theological Seminary. He is an ecumenical Christian, blogger, online seminary student and armchair theologian, who describes himself as a moderate evangelical with Wesleyan-Arminian and Anabaptist theological leanings. His writings also appear on his blog.