taking the words of Jesus seriously

A robot is a useful piece of technology typically used for complicated or dangerous tasks. Robots, often mass-produced, make no decisions on their own and are completely controlled by others. I’m beginning to realize that every time I go to church I’m becoming a little more robotic – programmed into being the perfect fit as a member of my congregation. I guess it’s inevitable that all churches will have a particular theology that they rally around and teach but it’s important to be aware of what’s happening. We’re always encouraged to accept Jesus as Lord but when we’re rooted in a particular theology along with it comes a version of Jesus that reflects that theology. What’s a little scary is that sometimes that Jesus advocates going to war as the “Christian” thing to do.

Preachers have a very difficult role to play. They often want to talk about the peace teachings of Jesus but are afraid to in case they get negative reactions from members of their congregation who are either in the military or have family in the military. I sometimes hear from preachers who are actually worried about losing their jobs if they even mention Jesus’ way of peace in a sermon, so they just ignore it. The mindset in many churches seems to be that going along with government policy and the military is synonymous with being a good Christian. That certainly isn’t a Jesus principle but we’re in danger of being lulled into that mentality if we shut off all critical thinking.

17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes said, “ If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” If he’s right, seeking the truth about Jesus might require mentally distancing ourselves from everything we’ve been programmed to believe and instead becoming open to discovering the true Kingdom of God.

Related: Should Christian Women Color Their Hair? On Dissatisfaction, Cultural Conformity, and Battling the Inner Barbie – by Jenny Rae Armstrong

Giving our children a solid foundation in the Christian faith may provide them with a good grounding in life but just being born into a family that follows Christian tradition or a “Christian nation” isn’t a good enough reason for anyone to become a Christian. Shouldn’t that require a personal commitment to follow Jesus – including what He taught about peace? Most of us have grown up being immersed in the theology of a particular denomination. We don’t question it. That’s just how it is…or is it?

If there is only one God, there is only one truth but there are thousands of Christian denominations with distinct theologies, so it’s only logical to assume that some of it must be wrong. I’ve heard it said that no matter how perfect we think our theology is, 10% of it is incorrect. The problem is nobody knows which 10%. In a world where every church believes that it has the inside track on truth, the only sure test for whether something is true or false is to ask ourselves if it looks like Jesus.

Also by Stephen: The Lion, the Witch, and the War

I often think that although our non-Christian friends may not have a personal relationship with Christ, they usually do have a basic understanding of what He stands for, which may actually make them better suited than Christians to evaluate how Christ-like we really are. As unbiased observers of our attitudes and actions with no theological baggage to predetermine what they think, they can offer a unique perspective on how we’re doing at becoming the compassionate, peaceful, non-judgmental people that Jesus asks us to be.

I wish I could say that I’m really good at being a Christ follower, but the truth is that I have a long way to go. But I do have a plan. I know that if I can become a more authentic, less robotic human being who’s more Kingdom focused than institutional theology focused, I might actually have a chance of getting closer to where I want to be. And where I want to be is closer to Jesus.

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